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Full text of "BLOOD AND TEARS"

Blood 

and 

Tears 



Qutubuddin Aziz 



170 eye-witness accounts of the atrocities committed on 
West Pakistanis, Biharis and other non-Bengalis and pro- 
Pakistan Bengalis in 55 towns of East Pakistan by Awami 
League militants and other rebels in March-April, 1971. 



Dedication 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THOSE HUNDREDS OF 

THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND 

CHILDREN WHO WERE KILLED OR MAIMED IN THE 

AWAMI LEAGUE'S REBELLION AND GENOCIDE AND 

THE MUKTI BAHINI'S REIGN OF TERROR IN EAST 

PAKISTAN IN 1971. 

Qutubuddin Aziz 



FIRST EDITION 



1974 



Book Published by 

Publications Division of the 

United Press of Pakistan Ltd. 

1, Victoria Chambers, Abdullah Haroon Road, 

Karachi-3, Pakistan 



Published Electronically by 
www. storyofbangladesh.com 



REVIEW 

For the first time, the pathetic, grisly and untold story of the massacre of 
more than half a million non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis by the 
Awami League-led insurgents in East Pakistan (breakaway Bangladesh) 
in March- April, 1971, is bared in "BLOOD AND TEARS". The details 
of the genocide waged by the rebels in those murderous months were 
concealed from the people of West Pakistan by the then federal 
government to prevent reprisals against the local Bengalis and also not 
to wreck the prospects of a negotiated settlement with the Awami 
League. The danger of such a reprisal has now been eliminated by the 
repatriation to Bangladesh from Pakistan of all the Bengalis who wished 
to go there. The 170 eye-witnesses, whose tragic accounts of their 
splintered and trauma- stricken lives are contained in this book, were 
picked from amongst nearly 5000 families repatriated to Pakistan from 
Bangladesh between the autumn of 1973 and the spring of 1974. 
Although they hail from 55 towns of East Pakistan, their narratives and 
the published dispatches of foreign newsmen quoted in this book, cover 
110 places where the slaughter of the innocents took place. The majority 
of eyewitnesses consist of the parents who saw their children slam, the 
wives who were forced by the rebels to witness the murder of their 
husbands, the girls who were ravished and the rare escapees from the 
rebel-operated human slaughterhouses. While the focus in "Blood and 
Tears" is on the rebels' atrocities in the infernal March- April, 1971, 
period, the brutality of the Indian-trained Bengali guerrilla force, the 
Mukti Bahini, after India's armed grab of East Pakistan on December 
17th 1971, is also recounted, though in less detail. The book highlights 
the courage and heroism of many Bengalis who saved their non-Bengali 
friends from the fire and fury of the bloodthirsty insurgents. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 1 

Why the slaughter of non- Bengalis was not reported in 
March 1971? — refugees from Awami League terror flee to 
West Pakistan — Bengali militants manhandle New York 
Times woman reporter in Dacca — Indian-inspired smear 
campaign against Pakistan in Western Europe and USA. 
CHAPTER ONE: Ides of March in Dacca 15 

General Yahya's National Assembly postponement 
broadcast — Awami League's rebellion and parallel 
government in East Pakistan — Non-Bengalis kidnapped 
for ransom — London's Sunday Times says 100,000 non- 
Bengalis massacred — hostage escapes death in Jagannath 
Hall abattoir — journalist's wife describes husband's 
murder. 

CHAPTER TWO: Terror in Narayanganj 44 

Killer gangs on the loose — slaughter in Fabric Factory — 
two non-Bengali captive girls raped in a bus — rebels 
march 500 wailing Bihari women and children. 

CHAPTER THREE: Human Abattoirs in Chittagong 48 

Massacre of non-Bengalis in Wireless and Ferozeshah 
Colonies, Raufabad. Halishahar, Pahartali, Kalurghat and 
Dotala — M. R. Siddiki, the "Butcher of Chittagong" — 
corpses flung into Karnaphuli river or burnt — 
slaughterhouses in Ispahani Jute Mills and Awami League 
HQ — mass sex assault chambers for ravishing non-Bengali 
captive girls — foreign press reports on Chittagong killings 
— Pro-Pakistan Bengali murdered at Port — rescue of 
incarcerated Bihari women from dungeon. 

CHAPTER FOUR: Massacres in Chandraghona, 80 

Rangamati 

Widow tells of husband's kidnapping — burning and 
looting of non-Bengali houses — captive women and 



children, herded in Camp for slaughter, rescued by Pakistan 
Army — killings in Paper and Rayon Mill. 

CHAPTER FIVE: Fire and Death in Khulna 83 

Telephone Exchange wrecked by rebels — non-Bengali 
hotel burnt — March 23 massacre in non-Bengali 
settlements — foreign press reports — slayings in Daulatpur 
and Khalispur — Riverside slaughter-houses and human 
abattoir in jute mill — torture methods such as eye-gouging 
— killings in Pholtala, Bagerhat. 

CHAPTER SIX: Satkhira Aflame 95 

Indian help to rebels — armed infiltrators — captive, 
bleeding Sub-Divisional Officer dragged through streets — 
killer gang hurls non-Bengalis into blazing jute godown — 
rebels carve "Joi Bangla" on foreheads of captive women — 
rebels flee to India. 

CHAPTER SEVEN: Hell in Dinajpur 98 

Mob burns non-Bengalis in bus — postal van ambushed — 
gruesome murder of 250 Pathans by rebels of East Pakistan 
Rifles — killings in Neelmati — rebels parade 400 naked, 
captive Bihari women — Army rescues girl survivors — 
slayings in Paharpur — slaughter-house on bank of Kanchan 
River — fiendish torture methods — Hindu militants in 
killer gags — Rebels torture Bengalis who protected non- 
Bengali friends — killings in other towns. 

CHAPTER EIGHT: Carnage in Parbatipur 116 

Non-Bengali Railway employees and families butchered — 
killings in train from Ishurdi — mass slaughter of non- 
Bengalis early in April — Mukti Bahini slayings in 
December — terrorised women flee to Saidpur. 

CHAPTER NINE: Slayings in Thakurgaon, Hilli 120 

Massacre of non-Bengalis in Rahmatganj — killing in 
Mosque — Bengali saves non-Bengali friend — murders in 
Hilli, Phulbari, Ponchagarh and Chaur Kai — April 6 



London Times reports on Hilli murders. 

CHAPTER TEN: Slaughter in Laksham, Rajbari 124 

Butchery in non-Bengali settlements in Laksham — Killing 
of non-Bengali Railway employees — killer gang kidnaps 
non-Bengali girls in Rajbari — terrorised non-Bengali 
women flee to Goal undo — terror in Faridpur. 

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Brutality in Kushtia 128 

Genocide against non-Bengalis — mass murders in Harding 
Bridge Colony — corpses thrown in Ganges River — 
dramatic breakthrough of captive Bihari women and 
children, herded in school building — slaughter in 
Arwapara and Thanapara — massacre of non-Bengali men 
in Kushtia jail — sadists singe skin of non-Bengali victims 
with burning cigarettes — wombs of pregnant women 
ripped open. 

CHAPTER TWELVE: Butchery in Chuadanga 133 

Slayings in Murghi Patti colony — rebel attack on Railway 
station and slaughter of non-Bengali staff — assault on 
captive nonBengali girls in school building — torture of 
West Pakistani Officer. 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Killer gangs in Meherpur, 136 
Zafarkandi 

Slaughter of non-Bengalis in Jute Mill in Meherpur — killer 
gangs machine-gun victims escaping from blazing houses 
— non-Bengali girls kidnapped, raped and shot — non- 
Bengali population liquidated in Zafarkandi. 
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Mass Murder in Ishurdi 



Very few survived carnage of non-Bengalis — anti-Bihari 
slogans on placards atop mounds of non-Bengali corpses — 
slaughter in Pachchum Tengri Colony. 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Persecution in Paksey 

Agony of wailing non-Bengali widows and orphans herded 
in mosque — 15-year-old boy esapes massacre with little 
sister — adult male non-Bengalis killed. 



138 



140 



against non-Bengalis — 
— Bengali shelters non- 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Terror Rule in Noakhali 143 

Operation loot, burn and kill 
butchery in apartment house 
Bengali from rebels. 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Sorrows of Sylhet 145 

Awami Leaguers incite tea garden labour to kill non- 
Bengalis — rebels butcher non-Bengali couple but Bengali 
maid servant shields their children. 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Shootings in Molvi Bazar, 148 
Bheramara 

Rebels force victims to dig graves be: ore liquidation — 
nonBengalis herded at riverbank and gunned — young 
wdow tells of husband's murder and her rape by killers — 
butchery in Narkuldanga. 

CHAPTER NINETEEN: Death Stalks Rangpur 153 

Carnage in Alamnagar Colony — Bihari settlements wiped 
out — non-Bengali women survivors herded in Iqbal High 
School, some raped and many shot by rebels. 

CHAPTER TWENTY: Gunfire Ravages Nilphamari, 156 
Saidpur 

Brutal killings of non-Bengalis — horror in Kopilmoni — 
bodies of ravished, dead girls float in tanks — non-Bengali 
railway employees in Saidpur massacred. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Killings In Lalmonirhat 160 

Killer gangs stage bloodbath in non-Bengali settlements — 
Bengali neighbours plead for non-Bengali friends — 
murders in trains — Mukti Bahini terror reign. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Inferno in Jessore 163 

Slaughter of non-Bengalis in derailed train — carnage in 
Jhumjhumpur Colony, Taraganj, Hamidpur, Ambagaon. 
Bachachar and Puratan Qasba — Pogrom against non- 
Bengalis in Mobarkganj, Kaliganj. Kotchandpur and 
Tafsidanga — foreign press reports on Jessore genocide — 



East Bengal Regiment rebels murder West Pakistani officers 
— Hindus and armed Indian infiltrators abet murder of non- 
Bengalis — blockade of Army cantonment — Bengali rebels 
kill Italian Priest Rev. Mario Veronesi. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Suffering in Narail 173 

Hindus helped rebels in slaughtering non-Bengalis - 
aloyings in Molvipara — Islam-loving Bengalis butchered 
by rebels — non-Bengalis liquidated in Mujgunni and 
Sonadanga — very few non-Bengalis survived massacres. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Decimation in 176 
Bejardanga, Jhenidah 

Rebels liquidate non-Bengali railway employees and their 
families at Railway station — rail track wrecked — raids on 
non-Bengalis in Cadet College at Jhenidah. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Bloodbath in Noapara, 179 
Darsana 

All non-Bengali staff in Carpeting Mill at Noapara 
slaughtered — Bengali family shields daughter of murdered 
non-Bengali friend — march of captive non-Bengali girls in 
Noapara Bazar — ransom from kidnapped non-Bengali 
businessmen — non-Bengali settlements in Darsana wiped 
out. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: Destruction in Barisal 183 

Mid-stream massacre of non-Bengalis in steamer — Bengali 
bargeman saves lone woman survivor — carnage in 
Kurmitala in Jhalokathi — march of naked non-Bengali 
captive women in Bazar — rebels' genocidal frenzy. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN : Genocide in 187 
Mymensingh 

Massacre of West Pakistani military personnel and their 
families in Cantonment by Bengali rebels — carnage in 
Shankipara Bihari settlement — foreign press reports on 
bloodbath in Mymensingh — mass butchery in Mosque — 
heroism of Bengali priest who saved 500 Bihari women and 



children from death in Mosque — rebels burn bodies of 
Bihari victims — execution of 70 Punjabi families by rebels 

— mass murder scenes — field day for firing squads and 
vultures — open-air, slaughter-houses — Bengali widow 
sobs out story of husband's murder by rebels. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: Pogrom in Rajshahi, 204 
Natore 

Indian military aid to Bengali mutineers — terror in 
Rajshahi University Campus — rebels draft Indian Radio 
Engineer to help commission damaged Rajshahi Radio 
station — dead bodies of non-Bengalis floated in river — 
carnage in Sarda and Nawabganj. 

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Bloodshed in Pabna, 209 
Serajganj 

Non-Bengali girls kidnapped and ravished — corpses flung 
into river — 350 non-Bengalis burnt alive — Army found 
heaps of mutilated dead bodies. 

CHAPTER THIRTY: Comilla's Woes 211 

Rebels red-marked non-Bengali houses before burning them 
and slaying occupants — slaughter in New Market — 
Hindus desecrated Mosques — Government treasury looted 

— rebels seize telephone exchange — killings in Akhaura. 

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Grief in Brahmanbaria 215 

Rebels wipe out 500 Bihari women and children herded in 
dingy jail — carnage of non-Bengalis — hatchetmen escape 
to India — Sunday Times of London reports Brahmanbaria 
massacre of non-Bengalis. 

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: Turmoil in Bogra, Naogaon 217 

Non-Bengali shops, houses looted and burnt — Pakistan 
Army rescues 700 non-Bengalis herded in jail for murder — 
pregnant women bayoneted — carnage of non-Bengalis in 
Naogaon — rebels barricade streets — rebels parade 50 
captive non-Bengali women in the nude. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE: Horror in Santahar 219 

Slaughter scenes in non-Bengali settlements — survivor 
hides in graveyard for days to escape killer gangs — wailing 
non-Bengali women marched to torture camp — their 
rescue by Pakistan Army — Mukti Bahini terror in 
December, 1971. 

EPILOGUE 225 

Awami League's genocide against non-Bengalis was started 
long before federal Army's March 25 th 1971, action — 
Awami League's deception on electorate, switch from 
autonomy to independence — White Paper — Agartala 
Conspiracy — India's generous aid to Awami League in 
1970 polls — India's massive military aid to rebels — 
Indian- sponsored Bangladesh Government in Calcutta in 
April; 1971 — Indian preparations for armed grab of East 
Pakistan — inflated refugee figures — falsity of Awami 
League's charge that Pakistan Army killed 3 million 
Bengalis end raped 200,000 Bengali girls. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 235 

APPENDIX 237 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



INTRODUCTION 

In the first week of March 1971, when the Awami League had fired the 
first salvo of revolt in East Pakistan and it triggered off a forest fire of 
lawlessness, arson, loot and wanton murder all over the province, a senior 
official of the federal Information Ministry instructed me that my news 
service should not put out any story about the atrocities that were being 
committed on non-Bengalis by the rebels in the eastern half of the country. 
All other press services and newspapers in West Pakistan were given 
similar instruction. 

When I remonstrated with the Information Ministry official that it 
was unethical to damp a blackout on the news, he explained that press 
reporting of the killing of non-Bengalis in East Pakistan would unleash a 
serious repercussions in West Pakistan and provoke reprisals against the 
Bengalis residing in the western wing of the country. "It would exacerbate 
the current tension in the relations between the two Wings", he argued, 
"and it would also undermine the prospects of a negotiated settlement with 
the Awami League". The argument had an element of sound logic and a 
humanitarian veneer. Consequently, the news media in West Pakistan 
faithfully followed the federal government's instructions to suppress all 
news pertaining to the genocidal frenzy unloosed by the Awami League 
against the hapless West Pakistanis, Biharis and other non-Bengalis in 
rebellion-hit East Pakistan. 

The Awami League militants had gained control over the 
telecommunications network in East Pakistan during the first few days of 
their uprising and they showed meticulous care in excising even the haziest 
mention of the massacre of non-Bengalis in press and private telegrams to 
West Pakistan and overseas world. Word of the mushrooming, organised 
violence against non-Bengalis in East Pakistan reached West Pakistan 
through the West Pakistanis who fled from the Awami League's terror 
regime in planes and ships. But no newspaper in the Western Wing of the 
country dared report it in print. 

Early in the third week of March, a shipload of some 5,000 terror- 
stricken West Pakistanis and other non-Bengalis reached Karachi from 
Chittagong. Not a word of their plight filtered into the daily press in West 
Pakistan. In fact one of the local newspapers had the audacity to report that 
the arrivals from Chittagong said that the situation in the province was 



1 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



normal -as if this broken mass of humanity had run away from an idyllic 
state of blissful normalcy. 

For days on end all through the troubled month of March 1971, 
swarms of terrorised non-Bengalis lay at the Army-controlled Dacca 
Airport, awaiting their turn to be wafted to the safety of West Pakistan. But 
neither the world press nor the press in West Pakistan reported the gory 
carnage of the innocents which had made them fugitives from the Awami 
Leagues grisly terror. Caskets containing the mutilated dead bodies of 
West Pakistani military personnel and civilians reached Karachi with the 
planeloads of non-Bengali refugees from Dacca and their bereaved families 
milled and wailed at the Karachi Airport. But these heart-rending scenes 
went unreported in the West Pakistan news-papers because of the federal 
government's order to the Press not to mention the slaughter of the non- 
Bengalis in East Pakistan. 

The Bengali Secretary, who headed the federal Ministry of 
Information and Broadcasting at Islamabad, threatened to punish those 
newspapers which at one time felt impelled to violate his Ministry's fiat. 
Responding to my plea, retired Justice Z. H. Lari, a Karachi leader of the 
Council Muslim League, who had migrated to Pakistan from India in the 
1947 Partition and whose party was toying with the idea of a political 
alliance with the Awami League in the National Assembly, issued a 
mildly- worded press statement, in the second week of March 1971, in 
which he appealed to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to protect the non-Bengalis 
in East Pakistan. 

Looking at the tragic events of March, 1971 in retrospect, I must 
confess that even I, although my press service commanded a sizeable 
network of district correspondents in the interior of East Pakistan, was not 
fully aware of the scale, ferocity and dimension of the province-wide 
massacre of the non-Bengalis. Dacca and Chittagong were the only two 
cities from where sketchy reports of the slayings of non-Bengalis had 
trickled to me in Karachi, mostly through the escapees I met at the Karachi 
Airport on their arrival from East Pakistan. I had practically no news of the 
mass butchery which was being conducted by the Awami League militants 
and their accomplices from the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal 
Regiment in many scores of other cities and towns which were caught in 
the sweep of a cyclone of fire and death. 

In my dispatch on the deepening East Pakistan crises published in 
the Daily Christian Science Monitor and reprinted in the Daily Milwaukee 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Journal of March 14, 1971, 1 wrote: 

" Dacca reports say widespread mob violence, arson, looting 

and murders mushroomed in the wake of the Awami League's 
protest strike call. Destruction by Bengali militants of property 
owned by West Pakistanis in some East Pakistan towns has been 
heavy " 

"....The telephone link between East and West Pakistan remains 
nearly unusable and only a skeleton air service is being operated 
between Karachi and Dacca " 

Skimpy references to the blood-letting of untold proportions, undergone by 
the non-Bengalis during the Awami League's March 1971 uprising in East 
Pakistan, percolated into the columns of some newspapers in Western 
Europe and India in the first week of April 1971. The Times of London 
reported on April 6 th , 1971: 

"Thousands of helpless Muslim refugees settled in Bengal at the 
time of Partition, are reported to have been massacred by angry 
Bengalis in East Pakistan during the past week " 

The Daily Statesman of New Delhi reported in its issue of April 4, 197 1 : 

"The millions of non-Bengali Muslims now trapped in the Eastern 
Wing have always felt the repercussions of the East-West tensions, 
and it is now feared that the Bengalis have turned on this vast 
minority community to take their revenge " 



The hundreds of eye-witnesses from nearly three score towns and cities of 
East Pakistan, whose testimonies are documented in this book, are 
unanimous in reporting that the slaughter of West Pakistanis, Biharis and 
other non-Bengalis and of some pro-Pakistan Bengalis had begun in the 
early days of the murderous month of March 1971. There were some 35 
foreign newsmen on the prowl in Dacca right up to March 26, 1971. But 
strangely their newspapers and news agencies reported barely a word or 
two about the spiralling pogrom against the non-Bengalis all over East 
Pakistan. Many of the American journalists in this motley crowd of foreign 
reporters (whose souls were saturated with compassion for the Bengali 
victims of the November 1970 cyclone tragedy) were so charmed by the 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



public relations operatives of the Awami League that they were just not 
prepared to believe that their darlings in this fascist organization could 
commit or instigate the murder of the non-Bengalis. 

Peggy Durdin, a writer for the Magazine Section of the New York 
Times and her husband, also a reporter for the NYT, were attached in the 
first week of March 1971 by Bengali demonstrators "with iron bars and 
long poles" in the heart of Dacca when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had just 
triggered the Awami League's rebellion. But she wrote not a word about 
their manhandling by the Bengalis in any issue of her great newspaper 
either in March or April 1971. It was in her article of May 2, 1971, in the 
Magazine section of the New York Times, about the Pakistan Army's 
alleged atrocities on the Bengali rebels that Peggy Durdin referred to the 
xenophobia unloosed by the Awami League's agitation and admitted for 
the first time that she and her husband were attacked by Bengali 
demonstrators in Dacca in the first few days of March 1971. 

Some Biharis in Dacca, whose relatives had been murdered in the 
city and at other places in the province, tried to contact foreign press 
reporters based at the Hotel Intercontinental. Awami League toughs who 
controlled all the access routes to the Hotel prevented their meeting. 
Conversation over the telephone had become a hazard for the non-Bengalis 
because of the Awami League's seizure of the Telephone Exchange and the 
tapping of telephone lines. A British press correspondent, who was in 
Dacca in March 1971, told me that a Bengali telephone operator cut off his 
long-distance conversation with his newspaper colleague in New Delhi in 
the third week of the month the moment he made mention of the blood- 
chilling massacre of non-Bengalis all over the province. 

The Pakistan Government paid very dearly for its folly of banishing 
from Dacca some 35 foreign newsmen on March 26, 1971, a day after the 
federal Army had gone into action against the Awami League militants and 
other Bengali rebels. Amongst them were quite a few American journalists 
of eminence and influence. They bore a deep grouse against the military 
regime in Pakistan, and all through 1971, no good word about Pakistan 
flowed from their powerful pens. They inundated the American press with 
grisly, highly exaggerated accounts of the Army' s toughness towards the 
rebels and ignored the virtual annihilation of a massive segment of the non- 
Bengali population by the Bengali rebels in March-April, 1971. 

For millions of gullible Americans and West Europeans the printed 
word in the daily press is like gospel truth and they readily believed the 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



many fibs about the Pakistan Army's conduct in East Pakistan which 
surged across the columns of their newspapers. 

The forced exit of the foreign news corps from Dacca, the ire and 
anger of these articulate newsmen over their banishment from East 
Pakistan and the reluctance of the American and the British newspapers to 
give credence to the censored despatches from Karachi on the military 
operations in the eastern half of the country prevented, to a great extent, the 
world-wide publication of the harrowing details of the bloodbath 
undergone by the non-Bengali population in the Awami League's March 
1971 uprising. Thus one of the bloodiest slaughters of modern times went 
largely unreported in the international press. 

Late in the first week of April 1971, the federal Information 
Ministry took a group of Pakistani press correspondents on a conducted 
tour of the rebel-devastated parts of East Pakistan. I was invited to go with 
the group but just then I was busy completing the Report of the Sind 
Government's Social Welfare Evaluation Committee (of which I was the 
Chairman). As I was keen to submit it to the provincial administration 
before the deadline of April, 12, 1971. 1 politely declined the invitation. 

One of the Pakistani newsmen who went on this tour of East 
Pakistan was Anthony Mascarenhas, Assistant Editor of Karachi's English 
Daily Morning News and Pakistan Correspondent of the Sunday Times of 
London. On May 2, 1971, the Sunday Times published, though belatedly, 
his write-up on the Awami League's March- April, 1971 revolt and the trail 
of devastation it left behind. It shed at least a kink of light on the vast 
dimension of the widespread and sadistic massacre of some 100,000 non- 
Bengalis in East Pakistan by the Bengali rebels. But a month later, its 
impact was neutralised and its authenticity was eroded by his second article 
entitled "Why the Refugees Fled?", which was prominently displayed in 
the Sunday Times of June 13, 1971 and reproduced, through Indian 
manipulation, in many newspapers in the United States and Canada. 
Seduced and tempted by the Indians, Mascarenhas and his family arrived in 
London early in June from Karachi and the Sunday Times published in a 
score of columns his venomous blast at the Pakistan Army for its alleged 
genocide against the Hindus of East Pakistan. 

In a bid to give his June 13 article the veneer of objectivity, 
Mascarenhas made this cursory reference to the slaughter of the non- 
Bengalis by the Bengali rebels: 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"Thousands of families of unfortunate Muslims, many of them 
refugees from Bihar who chose Pakistan at the time of the partition 
riots in 1947, were mercilessly wiped out. Women were raped or 
had their breasts torn out with specially fashioned knives. Children 
did not escape the horror: the lucky ones were killed with their 
parents; but many thousands of others must go through what life 
remains for them with eyes gouged out and limbs roughly 
amputated. More than 20,000 bodies of the non-Bengalis have been 
found in the main towns such as Chittagong, Khulna and Jessore. 
The real toll, I was told every- where in East Bengal, may have been 
as high as 100,000; for thousands of non-Bengalis have vanished 
without a trace " 



The reportage of the Pakistani newsmen, who toured East Pakistan in the 
first fortnight of April 1971, as published in the West Pakistan press, bared 
no details of the gruesome extermination of a large segment of the non- 
Bengali population in the Awami League's genocide. The reason was the 
federal Government's anxiety to prevent retributive reprisals against the 
Bengali populace in West Pakistan. 

I was stupefied when I heard blood-chilling accounts of the 
butchery practised by the Awami League rebels on their non-Bengali 
victims in Chittagong from friends who escaped to Karachi in mid-April. I 
was shocked beyond words because I rather like the Bengalis for their 
gentle and artistic traits and it was very hard for me to believe that any 
Bengali would indulge in the savagery which my informants from 
Chittagong attributed to the Awami League militants such as M. R. 
Siddiki, a high-ranking member of the party' s hierarchy. I counted amongst 
my esteemed Bengali friends his illustrious father-in-law, Mr. Abul Kasem 
Khan, a former federal Minister and legislator, and was impressed by his 
sartorial perfection and his amiable manners. As I browsed last month in 
the heaps of harrowing eye-witness accounts from Chittagong of the rebels' 
savagery in March 2971, I became aware of the reasons which made the 
non-Bengali victims nickname M. R. Siddiki as the "Butcher of 
Chittagong". He gave a new dimension of cold-blooded violence to the 
Awami League's terror apparatus. 

In the third week of April, the federal Information Ministry (whose 
Bengali head had been replaced by a West Pakistani) requested me to 
proceed post haste to the United States on deputation to the Embassy of 

6 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Pakistan in Washington D. C. and to project before the American public 
the rationale for the federal military intervention in East Pakistan. India's 
well-organized propaganda machinery and the liberally-financed India 
Lobby in the United States were working in top gear to malign Pakistan 
and to smear the name of the Pakistan Army by purveying yarns of its 
alleged brutality in East Pakistan. 

Pakistan's Public Relations difficulties in the United States were 
compounded by the unremitting hostility of the American press 
correspondent who were bundled out of Dacca on March 26. When I spoke 
to a friendly Senator at Capitol Hill about the massive burst of violence let 
loose all over East Pakistan by the Aw ami Leaguers on West Pakistanis, 
Biharis and other non-Bengalis during the murderous month of March 
1971 and told him that more than 100,000 non-Bengalis had perished in 
this dreadful carnage, he looked at me in disbelief "Why was not the 
massacre reported in the press in March?" was his logical query. 

Late in April, 1971, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington published 
a booklet containing a chronology of the federal intervention in East 
Pakistan. It highlighted the Awami League's pogrom against West 
Pakistanis, Biharis and other non-Bengalis which was waged in March 
1971. The immediate impact of its mass distribution in the United States 
was that many legislators and academicians sought information from the 
Embassy about the genesis of the word Bihari and the ethnic background of 
the Biharis. 

On May 6, 1971, a group of six foreign correspondents representing 
the New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press of America, TIME 
Magazine, the Financial Times of London and the New China News 
Agency (Xinhua) flew to Dacca and made a fairly comprehensive tour of 
the rebellion-damaged areas of the province. Their uncensored despatches 
from East Pakistan spoke of the widespread killing of the Biharis by the 
Bengali rebels in March- April 1971 and gave harrowing accounts of the 
rebels' brutality narrated by eye-witnesses and victims of the pogrom. The 
Embassy of Pakistan promptly published and widely distributed a booklet 
containing excerpts from "on-the-spot despatches" of the foreign newsmen 
who had toured East Pakistan in the second week of May, 1971. 

American, Indian and Bengali protagonists of the secessionist cause 
cast aspersions on the integrity of these foreign newsmen by charging that 
they were duped into believing that the mass graves they were shown were 
of non-Bengalis although, according to the phony claim of the 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



secessionists, they were of Bengalis liquidated by the Army. Indian 
propagandists dished out to foreign correspondents in New Delhi pictures 
of burnt houses and razed market places as evidence of the devastation 
caused by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan although in reality most of 
the destruction was caused by the well-armed Bengali rebels when they 
went on the rampage against the non-Bengalis in a bloody and flaming 
spree of loot, arson and murder. Some pictures were claimed to be of the 
Bengali female victims of the Pakistan Army's alleged atrocity; a close 
look at the physical features and dresses of the pictured females disclosed 
that they were West Pakistanis, not Bengalis. 

India's official propaganda outfit and its front organizations in the 
United States and Western Europe unleashed a spate of books and 
pamphlets in which the Pakistan Army was accused of the wanton 
slaughter of millions of Bengalis, of waging genocide against the Bengali 
Hindus and of ravishing 200,000 Bengali girls. West Pakistanis were 
branded in these Indian propaganda books as worse than the Huns and the 
Nazis. This miasma of lies and fibs, innovated by Indian publicists, was so 
ingeniously purveyed and sustained that the massive abridgement of the 
non-Bengali population by the Bengali rebels in March- April 1971 faded 
into the background and lay on the dust-heap of forgotten history. 

The White Paper on the East Pakistan crisis, published by the 
Government of Pakistan in August 1971, failed to make any significant 
international impact. It was inordinately delayed and gave a 
disappointingly sketchy account of the massacres of the non-Bengalis by 
the Awami Leaguers and other rebels. Dozens of places where, it now 
appears, non-Bengalis were slaughtered by the thousands in March- April 
1971 were not mentioned in the White Paper. 

The Government failed to give this belated post mortem report of 
the Awami League's genocidal campaign against the Biharis adequate and 
effective international publicity. The White Paper -would have made more 
impact, in spite of its inadequacy of details, and its foreign readers would 
have reacted in horror over the Awami League's racist pogrom if it had 
been published before the end of April 1971. 

In psychological warfare, the element of time is often of crucial 
importance, especially when one is pitted against an unscrupulous enemy 
with scant regard for truth and ethics. By August 1971, India had so 
virulently poisoned a large segment of public opinion in the West by 
blatantly magnifying the refugee influx and blaming the Pakistan Army for 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



this exodus that our White Paper neither set the record straight nor did it 
counter the many scores of books and pamphlets with which India flooded 
the world to malign Pakistan and its Army. 

The federal Information Ministry's film documentary on the 
restoration of normalcy in East Pakistan was a timely effort. Although shot 
in the second half of April 1971 and despatched to Pakistan's overseas 
missions in May, it was viewed by small audiences abroad. If adequate 
funds were available, it could have been shown on important television 
networks in the United States by buying time. It showed the rubble of 
homes and shopping blocks shot up or put to the torch by the rebels but it 
gave very little evidence of the infernal slaughter-houses and torture 
chambers set up by the rebels in March 1971 to liquidate many thousands 
of their non-Bengali victims. The blood-chilling savagery of the Awami 
League's genocide and the colossal wreckage of human lives it had left in 
its trail were not fully exposed. 

"The Great Tragedy", written by Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Chairman 
of the Pakistan People's Party and published in September 1971, shed 
revealing light on the genesis of the East Pakistan crisis, the secessionist 
ambitions of the Awami League's leadership. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 
obdurate and uncompromising stance in the constitutional talks in Dacca in 
the third week of March 1971 and the Pakistan People's Party's efforts for 
forging "a Grand Coalition of the majority parties of the two Wings" 
within the framework of a single, united Pakistan. Mr. Bhutto's vindication 
of the constitutional stand and role of his Party was forceful and logical. 
"The Great Tragedy" deserved global circulation on a mass scale -which, 
to our loss, was then denied to it. 

After my return to Pakistan from the United States late in 
November 1971, I spoke to one of the ruling Generals at Islamabad about 
the urgent need for the publication and mass distribution of a book based 
on eyewitness accounts of the survivors of the Awami League's holocaust 
of March- April 1971. I learnt that some reliable evidence had been 
collected from eye-witnesses but the Generals were then too busy with 
India's virtual invasion of East Pakistan and the preparations for a full-scale 
military showdown with India. 

Early in 1972, I met a number of non-Bengali war-displaced 
persons from East Pakistan who had taken up abode in shacks in the shanty 
township of Orangi in Karachi. I was horrified by the accounts they 
narrated of their suffering in East Pakistan during the Awami League's 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



bloody rebellion and the gaping vacuum this genocide had caused in the 
non-Bengali population in the country's eastern half. Their testimony 
showed that the Awami Leaguers and the rebels from the East Pakistan 
Rifles and the East Bengal Regiment were the first to massacre the non- 
Bengali innocents and that the tornado of violence and death which swept 
the province in March- April 1971 stemmed from the Awami League's lust 
for power. I thought of writing a book based on their testimony but I did 
not have eye-witnesses from all of the many scores of towns in East 
Pakistan where non-Bengali communities were wholly or partially 
exterminated. 

In the meantime, I started work on "Mission to Washington" which 
was an expose of India's intrigues in the United States to bring about the 
dismemberment of Pakistan. On the basis of my personal knowledge and 
experiences, I detailed in this book the diabolic work of the India Lobby in 
the United States and its collaborators to turn American public opinion 
against Pakistan and to block American military supplies to Pakistan's 
Armed forces preparatory to India's armed grab of East Pakistan in 
December 1971. It was published in January 1973. 

In "The East Pakistan Tragedy", written by Prof. Rushbrook 
Williams, a well-known British journalist and author, and published in 
1973, the political aspect of the East Pakistan crisis was lucidly discussed 
and Pakistan's case was cogently explained. 

Major-General Fazal Muqeem's book, "Leadership in Crisis", 
which also appeared in 1973, dealt at length with the politico -military 
aspect of the East Pakistan crisis, India's military and financial help to the 
Bengali secessionist rebels and the disastrous war with India in December 
1971. 

Pakistan's rejoinder to the flood of anti-Pakistan literature which 
has gushed from India's propaganda mills since the Ides of March 1971 has 
been tragically weak and inadequate. In the summer and autumn of 1973, 
when I travelled extensively in the Middle East, Western Europe and the 
United States, I saw a number of books derogatory to Pakistan and its fine 
army in bookshops, especially those which sell foreign publications. Two 
books which I read and which provoked my ire are Indian Major-General 
D.K. Palit's "The Lightning Campaign" in which he has heaped invectives 
and abuses on the Pakistan Army units stationed in East Pakistan, and Olga 
Olson's "Doktor" in which she has exaggerated the suffering of the Bengali 
population during the Army operations in 1971. I also glanced over two fat 

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volumes of the Bangladesh documents, mass distributed by the Indian 
Government in the United States, in which India is projected as an angel of 
peace who showed Job-like patience in the face of Pakistan's alleged 
villainy and barbarity in East Pakistan. I did not see in these overseas 
bookstalls a single book about the gruesome atrocities perpetrated by the 
Bengali rebels on the hapless Biharis and other non-Bengalis in East 
Pakistan in March 1971. 

The general impression in the United States and Western Europe, at 
least until the autumn of 1973, was that the Biharis had joined hands with 
the Pakistan Army in its 1971 operations in East Pakistan and that after the 
defeat of the Pakistan Army in the third week of December 1971, the 
Bengalis had a lawful right to inflict retributive justice and violence on the 
Biharis. 

In the Middle East, some politicians and journalists, although 
sincere in their friendship for Pakistan, asked me whether the stories they 
had read about the Pakistan Army's alleged brutality in East Pakistan were 
correct and whether ruthlessness was an ingrained quality in the Pakistani 
psyche and temperament. I was appalled by the doubts which India's smear 
campaign against Pakistan had created about us as a nation even in the 
minds of our brothers-in- faith and friends. 

Late in September 1973, the exchange of Bengalis in Pakistan with 
Pakistanis in Bangladesh and the repatriation of the Pakistani prisoners of 
war and civilian internees from India was commenced under the previous 
month' s New Delhi Agreement. As the Chairman of an official Committee 
for the relief and rehabilitation of war-displaced persons from East 
Pakistan in the Orangi township in Karachi, I met many hundreds of non- 
Bengali repatriates — men, women and children. Their evidence gave me 
the impression that the non-Bengali death toll in the murderous period of 
March- April 1971 was in the vicinity of 500,000. 1 was profoundly touched 
and moved by their heart-rending accounts of the terrible suffering they 
had undergone during the Aw ami League's insurrection in March 1971 and 
in the months after India's armed seizure of East Pakistan in December 
1971. It was then that I decided that the full story of this horrifying pogrom 
and the atrocities committed on the hapless non-Bengalis and other 
patriotic Pakistanis in East Pakistan (breakaway Bangladesh) should be 
unravelled before the world. Hence this book. 

The 170 eye-witnesses, whose testimonies or interviews are 
contained in this book in abridged form have been chosen from a universe 



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of more than 5,000 repatriated non-Bengali families. I had identified, after 
some considerable research, 55 towns and cities in East Pakistan where the 
abridgement of the non-Bengali population in March and early April 1971 
was conspicuously heavy. The collection and compilation of these 
eyewitness accounts was started in January 1974 and completed in twelve 
weeks. A team of four reporters, commissioned for interviewing the 
witnesses from all these 55 towns and cities of East Pakistan, worked with 
intense devotion to secure their testimony. Many of the interviews were 
prolonged because the witnesses broke down in a flurry of sobs and tears 
as they related the agonising stories of their wrecked lives. I had issued in 
February 1974 an appeal in the newspapers for such eye-witness accounts, 
and I am grateful to the many hundreds of witnesses who promptly 
responded to my call. 

The statements and interviews of the witnesses were recorded on a 
fairly comprehensive proforma, along with their signatures. In selecting a 
witness, I exercised utmost care in assessing his background, his reliability 
and his suitability for narrating faithfully the details of the massacre he had 
witnessed or the suffering he had borne in March- April 1971. I have also 
pored over mounds of records, documents and foreign and Pakistani press 
clippings of that period. 

Although the eye-witness accounts contained in this book put the 
focus on the largely-unreported horror and beastiality of the murderous 
months of March and April 1971, I have, in many a case, incorporated the 
brutality suffered by the witnesses after India' s occupation of East Pakistan 
and the unleashing of the Mukti Bahini's campaign of terror and death 
against the helpless non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis from the third 
week of December 1971 onwards. For their full exposure, another book is 
needed. 

I regret that it was not possible for me to accommodate in this book 
the many hundreds of other testimonies that I received. Aside from the 
overriding consideration of space, another reason was my keenness that the 
witnesses, whose evidence is recorded in this book, should be the parents 
who saw their children slaughtered, the wives who were forced to see the 
ruthless slaying of their husbands, the girls who were kidnapped and raped 
by their captors and the escapees from the fiendish human slaughter-houses 
operated by the rebels. I was also anxious that the witnesses I select should 
have no relatives left in Bangladesh. 

I have incorporated in this book the acts of heroism and courage of 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



those brave and patriotic Bengalis who sheltered and protected, at great 
peril to themselves, their terror-stricken non-Bengali friends and 
neighbours. On the basis of the heaps of eye-witness accounts, which I 
have carefully read, sifted and analysed, I do make bold to say that the vast 
majority of Bengalis disapproved of and was not a party to the barbaric 
atrocities inflicted on the hapless non-Bengalis by the Awami League's 
terror machine and the Frankenstein's and vampires it unloosed. This silent 
majority, it seemed, was awed, immobilised and neutralised by the 
terrifying power, weapons and ruthlessness of a misguided minority hell- 
bent on accomplishing the secession of East Pakistan. 

I must stress, with all the force and sincerity at my command, that 
this bock is not intended to be a racist indictment of the Bengalis as a 
nation. In writing and publishing this book, I am not motivated by any 
revanchist obsession or a wish to condemn my erstwhile Bengali 
compatriots as a nation. Even today there are vast numbers of them who 
are braving the pain and agony of endless incarceration in hundreds of jails 
in Bangladesh because of their loyalty to Pakistan — a country in whose 
creation their noble forebears played a leading role. Just as it is stupid to 
condemn the great German people for the sins of the Nazis, it would be 
foolish to blame the Bengali people as a whole for the dark deeds of the 
Awami League militants and their accomplices. 

As a people, I hold the Bengalis in high esteem. In the winter of 
1970-71, I had dedicatedly laboured for months, as the Secretary of the 
Sind Government's Relief Committee for the Cyclone sufferers of East 
Pakistan, to rush succour of more than ten million rupees, in cash and kind, 
to the victims of this cataclysmic tragedy. 

Time is a great healer of wounds and I hope and pray that God, in 
his benign mercy, will reunite the Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh, if 
not physically, at least in mind and soul. Knowing a little of the Bengali 
Muslims' psyche and social milieu, I devoutly believe that no power on 
earth can snap permanently their Islamic moorings and that, in spite of the 
trauma of 1971 and its painful aftermath, they remain an inseparable part 
of the mainstream of the globe-girdling Muslim fraternity. "Blood and 
Tears" is being published at a time when all the Bengalis in Pakistan who 
opted for Bangladesh have been repatriated to that country and the danger 
of any reprisal against them has been totally eliminated. 

The succour and rehabilitation of the multitudes of Biharis and 
other non-Bengalis, now repatriated to Pakistan, is our moral and social 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



responsibility. They have suffered because they and their parents or 
children were devoted to the ideology of Pakistan and many shed their 
blood for it. Even as the victims of a catastrophe, not of their own making, 
they are entitled to the fullest measure of our sympathy, empathy and 
support in restoring the splintered planks of their tragedy- stricken lives. In 
projecting their suffering and of those who are sadly no more and in 
depicting the poignance and pain of their scarred memories in "Blood and 
Tears", I have been motivated by humane considerations and by a 
humanitarian impulse. Theirs is, indeed, a very sad story, largely untold, 
and this book mirrors, in part, the agony and trauma they suffered in the 
not-too-distant past, and the raw wounds they still carry in their tormented 
hearts. "Blood and Tears" is the story of the rivers of blood that flowed in 
East Pakistan in the infernal month of March 1971, when the Awami 
League's genocide against the non-Bengalis was unleashed, and also of the 
tears that we shall shed for many a year to come over the massacre of the 
innocents and India' s amputation of our eastern wing. 



May 30, 1974 
Karachi 



Qutubuddin Aziz 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER ONE 

The Ides of March in Dacca 



The Awami League held East Pakistan's capital city of Dacca in its 
ruthless grip from March 1 to 25, 1971. During this dark period of loot, 
arson and murder, more than 5,000 non-Bengalis were done to death by the 
Awami League militants and their supporters. For months, before the Ides 
of March 1971, the hardcore leadership of the Awami League had primed 
its terror machine for confrontation with the authority of the federal 
government. Fire-breathing demagogues of the Awami League had 
saturated the consciousness of their volatile followers with hatred for the 
West Pakistanis, the Biharis and other non-Bengalis. They propagated a 
racist and obscurantist brand of Bengali nationalism. Secession from the 
Pakistani nationhood was undoubtedly their camouflaged goal, 

On March 1, 1971, within an hour of General Yahya Khan's 
forenoon announcement of the temporary postponement of the March 3 
session of the Constitution-framing National Assembly, Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman fired the first broadside of revolt against the federal government. 
At a hurriedly summoned press conference in Dacca, he ordered a general 
strike in the provincial capital to paralyse the administration and to usurp 
the authority of the lawfully-established Government in East Pakistan. 

As he gave the "Go Ahead" signal to his party's storm troopers, the 
Awami League militants went on the rampage all over the city, looting, 
burning and killing. They looted arms and ammunition from the Rifle Club 
in the nearby industrial township of Narayanganj. They turned two 
dormitory blocks of the Dacca University, the Iqbal Hall and the Jagannath 
Hall, into operational bases for their regime of terror. 

On March 2, armed Awami League jingoes looted guns and 
ammunition from arms shops in the New Market and Baitul Mukarram 
localities of central Dacca. They trucked the looted weapons to the Dacca 
University Campus where student storm troopers practised shooting on an 
improvised firing range. 

Frenzied mobs, armed with guns, knives, iron rods and staves, 
roamed at will and looted business houses, shops and cinemas owned by 
non-Bengalis. The lawlessness and terror which the Awami League had 
unleashed in Dacca compelled the provincial administration to summon the 
help of the Army units garrisoned in the Dacca cantonment. 

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The Awami League's militants incited the Bengali populace to defy 
the dusk-to-dawn curfew. Six persons were killed when a riotous mob 
attacked an army unit in the Sadarghat locality of Dacca. A posse of troops 
saved the Dacca television station from being wrecked by a violent mob. 

On March 3, the general strike ordered by the Awami League all 
over the province, paralysed life in Dacca. Rampaging mobs, led by gun 
brandishing Awami League militants, carried fire, terror and death into the 
homes of thousands of non-Bengalis in the populous localities of Dacca, 
such as Nawabpur, Islampur and Patuakhali Bazar. Many shops and stores 
in the posh Jinnah Avenue shopping centre, owned by non-Bengalis, were 
looted. Fifty non-Bengali huts in a shanty suburban locality were put to the 
torch and many of their inmates were roasted alive. Thugs started 
kidnapping prosperous non-Bengalis and extorted ransom money from 
their relatives. 

Under the orders of the Awami League High Command, the Radio 
and Television stations in Dacca gave up playing Pakistan's National 
Anthem and replaced it by the "Bangladesh Anthem". Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman announced in Dacca the launching of a Civil Disobedience 
Movement, an euphemism for rebellion, throughout East Pakistan, Thus, in 
three days, the Awami League succeeded in establishing a full-blown terror 
regime whose principal goal was to liquidate the authority of the federal 
government and to abridge the population of the non-Bengalis, preparatory 
to the armed seizure of the entire province. The telecommunications and air 
links between East Pakistan and West Pakistan were snapped under the 
orders of the Awami League High Command. 

From March 4 to 10, violent mobs, led by Awami League jingoes, 
looted and burnt many non-Bengali houses and shops and kidnapped rich 
West Pakistani businessmen for ransom. In a jail-break at the Central 
Prison in Dacca on March 6, some 341 prisoners escaped and joined hands 
with Awami League militants and student activists in parading the main 
streets of Dacca. Gun-swinging Awami League cadres and activists of the 
East Pakistan Students League stole explosive chemicals from Dacca's 
Government Science Laboratory and the Polytechnic Institute to make 
Molotov Cocktails and other incendiary bombs. Defiant students of the 
Salimullah Muslim Hall of the Dacca University tried to burn the British 
Council office in Dacca but the troops arrived in time and the jingoes 
escaped. Awami League militants and student activists took away at 
gunpoint jeeps, cars and microbuses owned by non-Bengalis. They erected 

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"check posts" at nerve centres in the city and outside the Dacca Airport 
where they frisked the persons of non-Bengalis fleeing Dacca and seized 
their cash and jewellery, watches, radio sets and every other article of 
value. 

On March 7, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced his long-range 
action programme against the federal government at a mass meeting on the 
Ramna Race Course ground. Unfurled on the speakers' platform was the 
new flag of Bangladesh — a map of the province set in a red circle against a 
dark green background. The crowd yelled 'Joi Bangla' (Long Live Bengal) 
and 'Bangladesh Shadheen' (Independent Bengal). Prompted by Awami 
League volunteers, the crowd shouted slogans against Pakistan, its 
President, the new Governor of East Pakistan, General Tikka Khan and the 
Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto. The multitude 
sang Tagore's old song: "Bengal, my Golden Bengal". 

While ordering the continuance of indefinite strikes in Government 
offices, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman set up a parallel government directed by 
the Awami League. He instructed the people of East Pakistan not to pay 
Central Government taxes but to make payments to the provincial coffers. 
He asked his storm troopers to set up road blocks against military 
movements and to prevent the military from making use of railways and 
ports. The Awami League took over the radio and television stations, 
telecommunications, foreign trade and the banking system, including the 
control of money transfers from East to West Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman called for the organization of Revolutionary Action Groups in 
labour unions, villages and urban neighbourhoods to buttress the Awami 
League's defiance of federal authority. In effect, the Awami League 
leadership had on that day chosen the path of secession and loosed forces 
whose goal was an independent, racist Bengali state. In a despatch from its 
correspondent, Kenneth Clarke, London's Daily Telegraph reported on 
March 9, 1971: 

"Reports said that Dacca collapsed into complete lawlessness on 

Sunday night (March 7) as Sheikh Mujib took the province to the 

edge of secession". 



From March 11 to 15, the day on which General Yahya Khan flew into 
Dacca for constitutional talks with Sheikh Mujihur Rahman, the Awami 
League consolidated the parallel administration it had set up in Dacca. 
More non-Bengali businessmen were shanghaied and their houses looted. 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Non-Bengali passengers were intimidated and detained for questioning by 
Awami League militants at the Dacca Railway Station. 

A Government office near Kakrail in Dacca was set on fire. Non- 
Bengalis fleeing Dacca by air were frisked by Awami League cadres at 
their "Search and Loot" check post close to the entrance to the Dacca 
airport. Bottles of acid, pilfered from the science laboratories in closed 
educational institutions in Dacca, were flung into Government offices 
where some conscientious employees dared work. Armed thugs, claiming 
links with the Revolutionary Action Groups set up by the Awami League, 
extorted money from affluent non-Bengalis. 

From March 16 to 23, while General Yahya and Sheikh Mujib 
engaged in ding-dong constitutional negotiations, the Awami League 
continued to operate its parallel administration and trained its cadres in the 
use of automatic weapons at a number of training centres in Dacca and its 
suburbs. The incidence of raids on the homes of non-Bengalis mounted 
sharply. A riotous mob ambushed an Army jeep in Dacca and hijacked the 
six soldiers riding in it. Guns were looted from the Police armoury in the 
town. Awami League gunmen clamped a ban on the supply of food grains 
to the Pakistani military in the Dacca cantonment. 

March 23, Pakistan's national festival day, was designated as 
"Resistance Day" by the Awami League High Command. Instead of the 
Pakistan flag, the Awami League militants hoisted the new Bangladesh 
flag atop all public and private buildings in Dacca. Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman took the salute at an armed March Past at his residence on which 
the Bangladesh flag was ceremoniously unfurled. The Awami League held 
displays of its strength, and bellicose mobs, shouting 'Joi Bangla', went on 
the rampage in localities where non-Bengalis were concentrated. 

More West Pakistani businessmen were kidnapped and their 
Bengali captors demanded huge sums of money from their relatives as 
ransom. Violent mobs, waving guns and other lethal weapons, brick-batted 
Karachi-bound passengers near Dacca Airport. Awami League 
demonstrators marched past the Presidential Mansion in Dacca where 
General Yahya was staying and shouted obscenities against him and the 
federal Army. Young thugs, enriched by the ransom money extorted in the 
Awami League's name from non-Bengali businessmen and showing off the 
cars they had hijacked from their West Pakistani and other non-Bengali 
owners, milled in the evenings outside the Dhanmandi residence of Sheikh 
Mujibur Rahman and yelled "Shadheen Bangla" (Independent Bengal). 

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Awami League cadres tangled with the staff of the Chinese 
Consulate in Dacca on March 23 when they insisted on hoisting the 
Bangladesh flag atop the Consulate and the Chinese refused to allow them 
to do so. Awami League demonstrators, at many places, tore up Pakistan's 
national flag and trampled under their feet photographs of Quaid-i-Azam 
Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. 

All through this week, the Awami League militants were beefing up 
their strength with the defectors from the East Pakistan Rifles and the 
paramilitary Ansar force. Gunrunning from India proceeded at a frenzied 
pace and many Indian agents infiltrated into East Pakistan for sabotage. 
Hutments of non-Bengalis in Dacca's shanty townships were set ablaze by 
the hundreds. 

The Dacca University Campus served as the operational base of the 
Awami League militants and its laboratories were used for manufacturing 
different varieties of explosives. A portion of the Jagannath Hall was used 
for torturing and murdering kidnapped non-Bengalis. Reports of a forest- 
fire of loot, arson and murder in almost every town of East Pakistan 
worried the federal government and the Army's Eastern Command in 
Dacca. Cyclostyled posters, issued by the Awami League student and 
labour groups in Dacca and other places in the province, seemed like 
military orders of the day. These posters incited the people to "resort to a 
bloody war of resistance" for the "national liberation of East Bengal". 

Some 15,000 fully-loaded Rifles at the Dacca Police headquarters 
were seized by the Awami Leaguers and their supporters. More arms shops 
in Dacca were looted by the Awami League terrorists. In the morning of 
March 25, barricades and road blocks appeared all over Dacca city. Petrol 
bombs and other hand-made bombs, manufactured from chemicals stolen 
from the Science laboratories of educational institutions in the past few 
weeks, exploded at some places. 

The federal Army's intelligence service had become privy to the 
Awami League's plan for an armed uprising all over the province in the 
early hours of March 26, 1971. Late in the night of March 25, hours before 
the zero hour set by the Awami League for its armed insurrection, the 
federal army units fanned out from the Dacca cantonment and conducted, 
with lightning speed, a series of pre-emptive strikes which squelched the 
Awami League's uprising, at least in the provincial capital, in a matter of 
hours. The federal Army's crackdown on the Bengali insurgents in Dacca 
showed that the Awami Leaguers, while engaged in talks with General 

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Yahya, were collecting guns and ammunition and making explosives for 
the anticipated showdown with the federal army. 

In their bargaining with General Yahya Khan, the Awami League 
leaders wanted him to agree to a constitutional arrangement that would 
make East and West Pakistan two separate sovereign states with a very 
loose, nebulous confederal link — a link so weak that Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman's virtually independent Bangladesh could have snapped it any 
time he wished to do so. A posse of federal troops arrested him at his 
residence in Dhanmandi in Dacca at about 1-30 a.m. on March 26. He was 
lodged for the night in the Dacca Cantonment under military guard and 
flown the next day to West Pakistan and interned. 

The federal Army' s operations against the rebels in Dacca were so 
swift and effective that by the dawn of March 26 it was in full control of 
the city. The Army's strength in Dacca was adequate to enable it to scotch 
the Awami League's rebellion but in the rest of the province the federal 
troops were thinly spread out. It took them from three days to three weeks 
to rout the more than 176,000 Awami League-led rebels who conducted 
"Operation Loot, Kill and Burn" with savage ferocity against the non- 
Bengali element in the population. Even in some suburbs of Dacca, armed 
hotheads of the Awami League murdered non-Bengalis by the hundreds in 
the night of March 25/26, 1 97 1 . 

There is evidence to warrant the belief that the Awami League 
rebels were using a transmitter in the Indian diplomatic Mission in Dacca 
for round-the-clock contact with the Indian authorities who were giving 
support to the rebels, especially in the border belt. The "Free Bengal 
Radio", which went on the air on March 26 and which broadcast news of 
the phantom victories of the rebels, was undoubtedly an Indian innovation, 
installed on Indian soil. The Niagra of lies, which surged across the 
columns of India's Press and the air-waves of All India Radio, (such as the 
cock-and-bull story of the imaginary slaying of General Tikka Khan by a 
Bengali rebel), originated from the fertile imagination of a group of Indian 
propagandists and Bengali rebels who operated a psychological warfare 
outfit in Calcutta. 

Many of the rifles which the federal troops captured from the rebels 
were manufactured at the Rifle Factory in Ishapur in India while the 
ammunition stocks bore the marking of the ordinance factory at Kirkee in 
India. India threw some eight battalions of its Border Security Force in aid 
of the Awami League rebels in the last week of March 1971 in vital border 



20 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



areas. In the Nawabganj area in Dacca, the federal army seized a secret 
letter from an Awami League leader to an Indian agent, seeking a meeting 
across the border to discuss the "supply of heavy arms" from India to the 
Awami League-led rebels. 

In Dacca, the rebels burnt a predominantly Bihari settlement of 
shacks in the Old city, but the Awami League informants of foreign 
newsmen told them in the morning of March 26 that the Army had set the 
shanty township on fire. In the twin industrial city of Narayanganj, non- 
Bengalis, who were kidnapped and murdered by the rebels, were thrown 
into the Buriganga river or incinerated in houses set ablaze. 

Peggy Durdin, an American journalist, who, with her husband, 
also a journalist, had gone to Dacca to cover the National Assembly's 
session scheduled for March 3, gave this account of the mass hysteria 
whipped up by the Awami League leadership in the Bengali populace in 
the city since the beginning of the month in an article in the New York 
Times Magazine of May 2, 1971: 



"Almost within minutes of the broadcast announcement (General 
Yahya's March 1 postponement of the National Assembly session) 
and for weeks afterward, the volatile, bitter, angry Bengalis, from 
every walk of life, and including women, surged in enormous, 
shouting processions and demonstrations through the streets to 
show their resentment and assert their claim to self- 
determination 

"As Dacca erupted with angry demonstrators shouting slogans 
against the President and Mr. Bhutto and chanting 'Joi Bangk' 
(Hail Bengal) and 'Sadhin Bangla' (Independent Bengal), Sheikh 
Mujib, on March 2, proclaimed a five-day province-wide general 
strike; it stopped work everywhere, including all Government 
offices, closed every shop and halted all mechanical transport, 
including bicycles. Dacca became a city of eerie quiet except for 
the mass meetings held day after day in open places and the parades 
of chanting demonstrators. Since the only way to get around was on 
foot, my, husband and I daily walked 10 to 20 miles through the 
wide, trafficless streets, past the shuttered shops and empty 

markets 

"The high-pitched fervour sometimes turned xenophobic not only 
against West Pakistanis — who in some cases were killed on the 

21 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



streets and in their homes and often had their shops looted — but 
against Europeans. At the Intercontinental Hotel, Awami League 
gangs tore down all English signs, including the name of the hotel 
in electric lettering high up on one side of the building. A shot was 
fired through a lobby window and such hostility was shown for 
some days towards foreigners that the Swiss Manager of the Hotel 
closed the swimming pool and asked all guests to stay in their 
rooms except for meals. These, because the strike and transport 
difficulties had depleted staff, became self-service repasts 
consisting chiefly of rice and several kinds of curries " 

The xenophobic aspect of the agitation unleashed by the Awami League on 
March 1 was writ large in the manhandling of Peggy Durdin and her 
husband, also a Correspondent of the New York Times, in the heart of 
Dacca by a group of Bengali demonstrators. She wrote of it in the New 
York Times of May 2, 1972: 

"On the first day of the general strike particularly, emotional groups 
of demonstrating, shouting teenagers near the great (Baitul) 
Mokarram Mosque started to attack my husband and me with iron 
bars and long poles. Miraculously, an Awami Youth patrol spotted 
us and in the nick of time, pushed in quickly between us and the 
assailants, beating them off with their own poles and deftly herding 
us down narrow alley ways to safety in a local Awami League 
headquarter " 

Malcolm Browne of the New York Times, who visited East Pakistan early 
in May, wrote in a Dacca despatch in the NYT on May 6, 1971: 



"General Tikka Khan, the Military Governor of East Pakistan, said 
today that his staff estimated that 150 persons were killed in Dacca 
on the night of March 25 when the Army moved to re-assert control 

over this province 

"The sprawling city of Dacca, situated on a flood plain, criss- 
crossed by countless streams and rivers making up the Ganges 

River Delta, appeared peaceful 

"We are accused of massacring students", he (General Tikka Khan) 
said, "but we did not attack students or any other single group. 

22 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



When we were fired on we fired back." 

"The University was closed and any one in there had no business 
being there", the General continued. "We ordered those inside to 
come out and were met with fire. Naturally, we fired back " 

Maurice Quaintance of the Reuters News Agency, who also toured East 
Pakistan early in May 1971, said in a May 6 despatch from Dacca: 

"Lt. General Tikka Khan, the Military Governor, told newsmen at a 
reception that the military situation throughout East Pakistan was 

completely under control 

"The General said massacres had taken place in East Pakistan but 
they were not committed by the Army. After soldiers moved out of 
their cantonments on March 25, they discovered the widespread 
slaughter of innocent people. He cited one in stance in which he 
said 500 people were herded into a building which was then set on 
fire. There were no survivors. He said the West Pakistan people had 
not been told of such things for fear of reprisals. Tikka Khan said 
the Army did not attack anyone unless first fired on and even 
dissidents in two Dacca University strongpoints, who were armed 
with automatic weapons and crude bombs, were given the chance to 
leave the building. The General said that the entire Dacca action 

was over by the first light of day on March 26 

"Close to Dacca airport is a group of shattered homes, uninhabited 
and in some cases roofless. Official Pakistan sources say that the 
people who lived there were struck by the communal violence in 
the period before the Army restored law and order in the country's 
eastern wing." 

About the Dacca University and its affiliated Colleges, whose total 
destruction by the Army was alleged by foreign information media hostile 
to Pakistan late in March 1971, Maurice Quaintance of the Reuters News 
Agency had this to say after visiting the University Campus on May 7, 
1971: 



"Journalists, Friday, were shown Dacca University where the Army 
fought a pitched battle with students and Awami League supporters 
on the night of March 25. The fighting centered on the two 
University dormitories, Iqbal and Jagannath, where the Army say 

23 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



crude home-made bombs and an arsenal of weapons boosted the 
defenders as the troops moved to take over the strongpoint. A large 
hole in the dormitory showed where the Army used rockets to flush 
out those they say rejected an offer to give themselves up. On the 
front lawn before the dormitories, a senior officer took newsmen 
over a training area of barbed wire entanglements and high 
stonewalls where he said students had trained for the clash that was 
to come " 

About the captured Indian soldiers whom foreign newsmen met in 
Dacca and the seized Indian arms and ammunition shown to them on May 
7, 1971, Maurice Quaintance of Reuters cabled: 

"In Dacca, three Khaki-clad soldiers on Friday confessed they were 
captured prisoners sent from India to Pakistan last month to help 
the dissident East Pakistan Rifle units supporting the secessionists. 
Speaking through an interpreter, one told six foreign 
correspondents at Dacca Army headquarters that he came into 
Pakistan territory at night after being told with others of his 
platoon, that they were moving to the border post 

"Army Headquarters in Dacca on Friday displayed a selection of 
captured weapons and ammunition said to be mainly of Indian 
origin. They included rifles, mortar bombs and hand grenades all of 
which, the Army said, bore markings proving they were 
manufactured in India " 

London's Daily Telegraph, in its issue of April 7, 1971, carried a 
report from its staff correspondent in Dacca, quoting a native of Dundee: 

"He describes how after President Yahya's broadcast on March 26, 
a mob came to the factory. The goondas (thugs) went on the 
rampage. They looted the factory and offices, killed all the animals 
they could find and then started killing people. They went to the 
houses of my four directors, all West Pakistanis, set fire to the 
houses and burnt them alive, including families totalling 30. They 
killed the few who ran out." 



24 



Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz 

The Sunday Times of London, reported in its issue of May 2, 1971: 

"Ten days of piecing together the details in East Pakistan have 
revealed a huge and almost successful mutiny in the Pakistan Army 
and the brutal massacre of thousands of non-Bengalis — men, 
women and children. More than 20,000 bodies have been found so 
far in Bengal's main towns but the final count could top 100,000. 

"Eye-witnesses in more than 80 interviews tell horrifying stories of 
rape, torture, eye-gouging, public flogging of men and women, 
women's breasts being torn out and amputations before victims 
were shot or bayoneted to death. Punjabi Army personnel and civil 
servants and their families seem to have been singled out for special 
brutality " 

White with fear and with dazed, unbelieving eyes, I saw a Bengali student 
jingo behead a non-Bengali captive in a room in the Jagannath Hall of the 
Dacca University on March 24, 1971 because his relatives failed to send 
the demanded ransom of Rs. 3,000" said Mohammed Hanif, 23, who 
lived in Quarter No. 49 of "B" Block in the Lalmatia Colony in Dacca. 
Employed in the Tiger Wire Company in Dacca, Hanif said on his 
repatriation to Karachi in January 1974: 

"In the afternoon of March 24, I engaged a motorised Rickshaw 
(three-wheeled taxi) and asked the driver to take me to my home in 
Lalmatia Colony. I had spoken to him in broken Bengali and he 
knew that I was a non-Bengali. All of a sudden and in spite of my 
shouts in anger, he drove the vehicle into the compound of the 
Jagannath Hall where six armed students grabbed me. They took 
me inside a shuttered room where they frisked me thoroughly and 
snatched my watch and Rs. 150 from my pocket. They told me that 
I should write a letter to my close relatives, asking them to hand 
over to the bearer Rs. 3000 as ransom money to save my life. I 
hesitated and asked for some time to make up my mind. They tied 
my hands with strong ropes and marched me to a large hall where 
many roped non-Bengali captives squatted on the ground 

"The student jingo who had asked me to write the ransom letter 
paced towards a hapless victim at the far end of the hall. He told his 

25 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



prey in Bengali that the ransom money had not materialised and the 
deadline given to his relatives had passed, so he must die. The 
terrified victim shouted, squirmed and tried to run. But six toughs 
grabbed him while the jingo in the lead slit his throat with a 
'Ramdao' (a kind of dagger) and decapitated him 

"I was horror-stricken by what I had seen. At midnight, I told my 
captors that I would write the ransom letter to my elder brother. I 
wrote it in the morning of March 25 and asked my brother to 
arrange to give my captors Rs. 3,000 within 24 hours. The deadline 
set by the Bengali captors for the receipt of money was the morning 
of March 26. But God was merciful and late in the night of March 
25, the Army went into action against the rebels in Dacca and they 
were routed in the Jagannath Hall encounter. We were rescued by 
the federal troops". 



"I am the lone survivor of a group of ten Pathans who were 
employed as Security Guards by the Delta Construction Company in the 
Mohakhali locality in Dacca; all the others were slaughtered by the Bengali 
rebels in the night of March 25, 1971", said 40-year-old Bacha Khan. He 
said he escaped death by climbing a tree in the darkness of the night. 
Repatriated to Karachi from Dacca in September 1973, Bacha Khan said: 

"I was one of a group of ten Pathans employed by the Delta 
Construction Company in Dacca. We lived in the staff quarters in 
the Company's premises. Since the first week of March, the Awami 
League militants and young thugs were intimidating non-Bengalis, 
particularly the West Pakistanis. So all of us were on the 

alert 

"On March 25, a killer gang of Bengali rebels raided our staff 
quarters. As it was a surprise attack, they succeeded in killing three 
Pathan guards. I and the other surviving Pathans decided to put up a 
fight with the three guns we had. We held the raiders at bay for 
some time but they had more ammunition than we had. Taking 
advantage of the darkness all around, I slipped away from the scene 
and climbed a tree. The next morning I saw the dead bodies of the 
six other Pathans whom the rebels had killed at night after their 
ammunition was exhausted. The rebels took away our 
guns " 

26 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"The rebels burnt my hut and killed my nine-year-old son on March 
17, 1971", said 36-year-old Chand Meah who was employed in the 
Bengal Rubber Industries in Dacca. He lived in a hut in the Nakhalpara 
locality in the Tejgaon suburb on the way to the Dacca Airport. Chand 
Meah was repatriated to Karachi from Dacca in January 1974. He said: 

"Nakhalpara was very near the factory where I worked. I had saved 
some money and bought a small plot of land in this locality. I had 
erected a hut because I could not just then afford to build a pucca 
house. My wife, my 9 year-old son and I lived in it Our relations 
with our Bengali neighbours were friendly. Since the first week of 
March, an element of tension had crept in because of inflammatory 
harangues by Awami League demagogues and there were rumours 
that there would be a carnage of non-Bengalis 

"On March 17, when I was away from my hut on duty in the 
factory, a large killer gang of Awami League thugs attacked the 
non-Bengali huts in Nakhalpara, looted them and put them to the 
torch. They also burnt my hut and killed my son, who, in spite of 
his young age, tried to resist the attackers. When I returned to what 
once was my home I found the rubble still smouldering and my 
wife was lamenting over the dead body of our dear son". 

"I estimate that some 1,000 non-Bengalis were killed or wounded 
in barely three hours in the Adamjee Nagar New Colony in Dacca on 
March 19, 1971", said Mohammed Farid, 26, who was employed as 
Assistant Supervisor in the Spinning section of the Adamjee factory. Farid, 
who witnessed the gruesome massacre and escaped it by dint of good luck, 
was repatriated to Karachi in January 1974. He said: 

"Adamjee Nagar had in the past witnessed tension between the 
Bengali and non-Bengali employees and many non-Bengalis had 
suffered in clashes. The Awami League had built up a base of 
influence amongst the Bengali workers and since the first week of 
March 1971, party cadres were inciting the Bengali workers against 
the non-Bengalis 



"On March 19, a killer gang of Awami League militants, armed 
with guns, sickles, daggers and staves came into our factory. The 

27 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Bengali security guards joined them and they rampaged through the 
mill and the houses of the non-Bengali millhands.. 

"The killer gang attacked the Weaving section and slayed scores of 
non-Bengali employees in barely half an hour of Operation Murder. 
I saw many dozens of wounded millhands running towards my 
Spinning section. I hid myself behind a big machine at the far end 
of the Hall. The killers swarmed into my unit and attacked the non- 
Bengal employees. Some of the victims ran out and the killers 
chased them, shooting with guns. The killing spree of the rebels 
continued for nearly three hours. At night, when I emerged from 
hiding, hundreds of dead bodies were littered all over the factory 
premises. The killer gang looted the houses of non-Bengalis and 
burnt many. They slaughtered hundreds of innocent men, women 
and children and threw many corpses into flaming houses 

"Close to the water tank lay the dead bodies of many non-Bengali 
girls who, I learnt, were ravished by the killers and then murdered. 
It was a terrible scene " 



"A Bengali neighbour sheltered me and my aged mother from the 
terror and fury of the killer gang which had slaughtered my husband, my 
father and my two teenage brothers", said 22-year-old Roshanara Begum 
who lived in a house in the Tong: suburb of Dacca. In the March 23 raid on 
her house, the killer gang set it on fire and also kidnapped her teenage 
sister. Repatriated to Karachi in December 1973, she gave this pathetic 
account of her woes: 

"My parents hailed from the Indian state of Bihar but my brothers, 
my sister and I were born in Dacca. My father was employed in the 
Postal Department and he had opted for service in East Pakistan in 
the 1947 Partition of the sub-continent. He bought a plot of land in 
Tongi in Dacca and built a modest little house on it. We lived in 
peace and we had excellent relations with our Bengali 
neighbours 

"Since the first week of March, Awami League militants were 
spreading hatred for non-Bengalis amongst the Bengali population. 
The situation was tense and we had heard of attacks by killer gangs 

28 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



on non-Bengali homes in many localities of Dacca city. But our 
neighbours were decent people and they assured us that we were 
safe. All of us spoke excellent Bengali but our mother tongue was 
Urdu. So we were known as Biharis. At school, I studied through 
the medium of Bengali language. 

"In the night of March 23, 1971, an armed gang of Awami League 
thugs raided our house. They looted it and set it ablaze. We had no 
guns. The raiders overpowered my father, my husband and my two 
young brothers and shot them. They kidnapped my teenage sister. 
In the encounter between my male relatives and the killers, my 
mother and I succeeded in escaping through the backyard into the 
house of a God-fearing and gentle Bengali neighbour who 
sympathised with us and hid us in his home. Aged 15, my sister 
was a student in the 9 th class in school. After the federal troops 
routed the rebels on March 26, I did my best to trace her but we 
could not locate her. The Bengali rebels had kidnapped non-Bengali 
girls by the hundreds in Dacca and slaughtered them before the 
federal army crushed their rebellion. The souvenir I have of my 
loving husband is our two and half year old son who was born to 
me a few months after the slaying of Feroz Ahmed, my husband". 



"I heard the screams of an Urdu- speaking girl who was being 
ravished by her Bengali captors but I was so scared that I did not have the 
courage to emerge from hiding", said 24 year-old Zahid Abdi, who was 
employed in a trading firm in Dacca. He escaped the slaughter of non- 
Bengalis in the crowded New Market locality of Dacca on March 23, 1971 
and was sheltered by a God-fearing Bengali in his shop. The killers raped 
their non-Bengali teenage victim at the back of the shop and later on slayed 
her. Repatriated to Karachi in October 1973, Zahid Abdi said: 

"On March 23, 1 took a bus to the New Market shopping locality in 
Dacca. As the bus neared my destination, I saw a crowd of Awami 
League thugs, armed with guns and daggers, on the rampage. Even 
before the bus could come to a halt, I jumped from it and ran 
towards a side lane. I had heard that some non-Bengali passengers 
had been molested or done to death by the Awami League 
hoodlums. On the way towards the side lane, I saw a few wounded 
men sprawled on the roadside. A Bengali shopkeeper, whom I had 

29 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



known in the past, took pity on me and hid me in his shop. When he 
saw some thugs coming towards it he locked it up, with me in 
hiding, and stood guard. When the killers came, he told them that 
he was a Bengali and that he had shut his shop for the day 

"Acting on his advice, I decided to spend the night in the shop 
because the road back home was unsafe. Late at night, I heard the 
screams and shouts for help in Urdu of a girl who was being 
ravished by her captors in a dark place close to the shop where I 
was hiding. Her four captors took turns to rape her. After they had 
accomplished their satanic acts, the killer gang shot the girl and 
melted away in the void of the night. The shop was locked, and in 
the forenoon, when my protector opened it, I told him of the 
fiendish happening of the previous night. We looked for the body 
of the girl; there was no trace of it but bloodstains and torn pieces 
of a woman's clothing were visible at the spot where I thought that 
the girl was raped and murdered. My Bengali saviour, with tears in 
his eyes, told me that hundreds of non-Bengali girls had suffered a 
similar tragic fate and that the devil's minions were on the loose all 
over the city " 

Zahid Abdi's estimate is that some 2000 innocent, hapless non- 
Bengalis perished in the carnage in the New Market shopping locality and 
its neighbourhood. 

"The thugs did not spare a single non-Bengali shop or business 
premises in the area and looted every article of value", said Zahid Abdi. 

"I wish the federal Army had crushed the Awami League militants 
with full force in Dacca in the very first week of March 1971 when they 
had defied the Government's authority", said Anisur Rahman, 26, who 
was employed in a trading firm in Dacca. A graduate of the Dacca 
University, he lived in the Nawabpur locality and was repatriated to 
Karachi in February 1974. He said: 



"On March 23, a huge mob of Awami League militants, many with 
blazing guns, went on the rampage in the Nawabpur locality. They 
looted the houses of non-Bengalis, machine gunned the inmates and 

30 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



burnt many houses. They looted every shop owned by a non- 
Bengali. Some of my relatives perished in the carnage in our 
locality. My escape was nothing short of a miracle 

"The Awami League militants had guns and plenty of ammunition. 
Amongst the killers were many Hindus who appeared to be well- 
trained in the use of firearms. On March 9, the Awami Leaguers 
had taken away, under the pain of dire punishment, weapons owned 
by non-Bengalis. We were rendered defenceless. In the period of 
the Awami League's insurgency in Dacca, kidnapping non- 
Bengalis for ransom and then slaying them was the favourite modus 
operandi of the Awami League rebels. Hundreds of student bodies 
had sprouted all over the city and their hoodlums staged daring 
hold-ups on the roads and looted the houses of non-Bengalis. The 
Awami League High Command had frozen the bank accounts of 
non-Bengalis and restricted their withdrawal right. Awami League 
cadres used to reap huge cuts by getting sanctions for larger cash 
with drawals by the non-Bengalis. The kidnappers of many affluent 
West Pakistanis seized their cars as ransom. From March 1 to 25, 
Dacca had no government and no administration worth the name; it 
was Thug Rule. Some Bengali civil servants, who were loyal to the 
Government, wanted to go to their offices. The Awami League 
cadres warned them that they and their dear ones would be turned 
into mincemeat if they disobeyed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's strike 
order " 

"Dacca was a city of terror and fire in the third week of March 1971", said 
Mohammad Taha, 55, who lived all through that nightmarish period in 
his house on Noor Jahan Road in Dacca. Repatriated to Karachi from 
Kathmandu, where he had escaped from the Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan, 
Taha said in March 1974: 

"The crescendo of the Awami League's violence rose sharply in the 
second week of March 1971 and life became a nightmare for tens of 
thousands of innocent non-Bengalis who had never even tinkered 
with politics". 



Taha added: "Arson, rape and murder had become the order of the 
day. Three of my very close relatives were killed in the carnage. 

31 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Killer gangs shanghaied non-Bengalis on the streets and from their 
homes and the Bengali police had gone into purdah. The non- 
Bengalis thanked God when the federal Army went into action 
against the ruthless rebels. But on December 17, 1971, when the 
Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini seized Dacca, hell burst upon 
the non-Bengalis again and hundreds of thousands of innocent 
people were butchered by the Mukti Bahini victors and their 
trigger-happy supporters". 

Shah Imam, 30, who was engaged in business in Dacca and who lived in 

the Bikrampur locality, testified: 

"In the third week of March 1971, a Bengali killer gang murdered 
my paternal uncle, my elder brother and his teenage son in a 
steamer on way from Barisal to Dacca 

"I learnt from the Bengali bargeman that, in midstream, about 50 
armed thugs, shouting 'Joi Bangla', attacked the non-Bengali 
passengers. They forced the Sareng (captain) to anchor the steamer 
on a deserted bank of the river. The killer gang lined up the non- 
Bengali passengers on the bank of the river and gunned them to 
death. They pilfered every article of value from the bodies of the 
slain men, women and children and threw the dead into the river. 
After the federal troops routed the rebels, I tried to locate the dead 
bodies of my murdered relatives and visited the scene of the 
slaughter but there was no trace of them although there were 
bloodstains at many places along the bank " 

Shah Imam was repatriated to Karachi in March 1974. 

"My only daughter has been insane since she was forced by her 
savage tormentors to watch the brutal murder of her husband", said 
Mukhtar Ahmed Khan, 43, while giving an account of his suffering 
during the Ides of March 1971 in Dacca. Repatriated to Karachi in January 
1974, he said: 

"We lived in a rented house in Abdul Aziz Lane in Dacca. I was in 

business and we had prospered. I had married my daughter to a 

promising young man 



32 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"In the third week of March 1971, a gang of armed Bengali rebels 
raided the house of my son-in-law and overpowered him. He was a 
courageous young man and he resisted the attackers. My daughter 
also resisted the attackers but they were far too many and they were 
well-armed. They tied up my son-in-law and my daughter with 
ropes and they forced her to watch as they slit the throat of her 
husband and ripped his stomach open in the style of butchers. She 
fainted and lost consciousness. Since that dreadful day, 6she has 
been mentally ill. She trembles and she raves many a time as 
memory reminds 

her of that grisly event in her broken life " 

"We sought refuge, with our wounded father in the woods near Tongi, a 
suburb in Dacca, and lived there on water and wild fruits for three days", 
said Ayesha Khatoon, 22, on her repatriation to Karachi from Dacca in 
February 1974. She testified: 

"On March 25, 1971, a killer gang broke into our house and looted 
all the valuables we had. They trucked away all the loot. My father, 
Mr. Nooruddin, a local businessman who owned the house, resisted 
the raiders. The Bengali rebels stabbed him in the chest and escaped 
with their booty. 

"As the killers had said that they would return, my brother and I 
helped our father walk some distance to the woods nearby. We 
spread a bed sheet and my wounded father lay on it. I bandaged his 
wounds but we had no food. My brother brought water from the 
pond and some wild fruits. We lived on this repast for three days. In 
the afternoon of March 28, we spotted some Pakistani troops and 
my brother ran towards them. The soldiers took us back to our 
home. I nursed back my father to full recovery 



"But more travail and misfortune lay in store for us. After less than 
9 months, the Mukti Bahini went on the rampage against the non- 
Bengalis in Dacca. In the last week of December 1971, a gang of 
armed Bengalis came to my house and grabbed my husband, Zafar 
Alam. They asked us to give them all the cash and my ornaments. I 
had none left. They said that they would set free my husband if my 
father signed a bogus document of sale of our house to the leader of 

33 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



the killer gang. To save the life of my husband, my father readily 
agreed to do so. The killer gang promised to bring back my 
husband after some questioning. Full two years have passed and I 
have no news of him. I presume that the thugs killed him. I 
understand that the killer gangs practised this fraud on a lot of 
helpless non-Bengalis after the Indians and the Mukti Bahini 
occupied East Pakistan in December 1971. The killer gang drove us 
from our house and we lived in the Red Cross camp in 
Dacca " 

Aliya Bibi, 40, who lived in a flat with her son in the Mohammedpur 
locality in Dacca, reported after her arrival in Karachi in January 1974: 

"On March 25, 1971, a gang of Awami League militants and some 
thugs raided my house and looted it. They did not spare anything of 
value. My 16-year-old son had climbed an umbrageous tree and the 
raiders did not detect him 

"But in the last week of December 1971, he was killed by the 
Mukti Bahini. Life has been a torment for me since then " 

Saira Khatoon, 35, who lived in Mirpur in Dacca, gave this account of the 
murder of her husband, Abdul Hamid, in the March 1971 carnage of non- 
Bengalis in Dacca: 

"My husband left our home in Mirpur on March 25 to go to a 
meeting in the city. On the way the Bengali rebels waylaid and 
murdered him. 

"As I did not see his dead body, I appealed to the federal Army to 
help me in locating my husband, dead or alive. The Army tried to 
trace him but the presumption was that he was ambushed and killed 
as was the fate of my other male relatives in Dacca and other places 
in East Pakistan", said Saira Khatoon. 

"I have no choice but to believe that my husband was killed by the 

rebels in March 1971", she added "Hundreds of non-Bengali 

teenage girls were kidnapped, raped and murdered", she further 
said. 



34 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Zaibunnissa, 33, lived in a flat on Noor Jahan Road in the 
Mohammadpur locality of Dacca. Her husband, Abdus Salam, was 
employed as a driver in the Dacca office of the Pakistan International 
Airlines. She gave this account of the raid on her house by the Bengali 
rebels and the death of her husband: 

"On March 25, 1971, a gang of Awami League militants raided our 
house. My husband resisted the attackers and grappled with them. 
The raiders were armed and they overpowered him. They stabbed 
him and then looted our house. After the raiders had gone, I felt 
some sign of life in my husband. The next morning I took him to a 
local hospital. The rebels had been routed but the Bengali hospital 
staff was sullen. They did not pay much attention and my husband 
died 

"After December 16, 1971, my 10 year old son and I suffered 
again. The Mukti Bahini wanted to kidnap my son and I had to 
keep him in hiding for days on end until we were moved to a Red 
Cross Camp. Even there, the Mukti Bahini used to kidnap the non- 
Bengali men and teenage girls every now and then " 

Zaibunnissa and her son were repatriated to Pakistan from Dacca in 
December 1973. 



Shamim Akhtar, 28, whose husband was employed as a clerk in 
the Railway office in Dacca, lived in a small house in the Mirpur locality 
there. They had escaped the March 1971 massacre because of the strong 
resistance put up by the Bihari young men of the locality against the rebels 
who attacked them. But after the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini seized 
East Pakistan in the third week of December 1971, life became an ordeal 
for Shamim, her husband, Fasihuddin and her three little children. She 
described her tragedy in these words: 

"On December 17, 1971, the Mukti Bahini cut off the water supply 
to our homes. We used to get water from a nearby pond; it was 
polluted and had a bad odour. I was nine months pregnant. On 
December 23, 1971, I gave birth to a baby girl. No midwife was 
available and my husband helped me at child birth. Late at night, a 
gang of armed Bengalis raided our house, grabbed my husband and 
trucked him away. I begged them in the name of God to spare him 

35 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



as I could not even walk and my children were too small. The 
killers were heartless and I learnt that they murdered my husband. 
After five days, they returned and ordered me and my children to 
vacate the house as they claimed that it was now their property. 

"Biharis", said the gang leader, "have no right to live in 
Bangladesh." At gunpoint, they drove me with my children to an 
open plot of land where we slept on the bare earth in the cold for 
three days. My children starved; I was too weak to get them even a 
morsel of food. A foreign Red Cross team took pity on us and 
moved us to a Relief Camp in Mohammadpur " 

Shamim and her children were repatriated to Pakistan from Dacca 
in January 1974. 

Zaibunnissa Haq, 30, whose journalist husband, Izhar-ul Haque, 
worked as a columnist in the Daily Watan in Dacca, gave this account of 
her travail in 1971: 

"We lived in our own house on Razia Sultana Road in 
Mohammedpur in Dacca. My husband had, in the past, worked in 
the Daily Pasban and was well-known as an Urdu writer and 
journalist 

"On March 25, 1971, a gang of armed Awami League storm 
troopers raided our locality and looted my house. My husband was 
not at home; otherwise the raiders would have kidnapped him 

"After the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini occupied Dacca on 
December 17, 1971, a reign of terror and death was unleashed on 
the non-Bengalis, especially those of us who lived in 
Mohammedpur and Mirpur. A dozen Bihari young men of our 
locality, including my husband, used to patrol the area at night to 
keep marauders at bay. On December 19, late at night, a gang of 
armed Bengalis raided the locality and machine-gunned my 
husband. My world was shattered when I saw his dead body. 
People in the entire neighbourhood cried because he was popular 
and had looked after the safety of the neighbours with immense 
courage 

36 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"On December 21, a posse of Mukti Bahini soldiers and some thugs 
rode into our locality with blazing guns and ordered us to leave our 
house as, according to them, no Bihari could own a house in 
Bangladesh. For two days, we lived on bare earth in an open space 
and we had nothing to eat. Subsequently, we were taken to a Relief 
Camp by the Red Cross. 
In January 1974, we were repatriated to Pakistan " 

Fatima Bibi, 40, whose husband was employed in a trading firm in 
Tongi, testified after her repatriation to Karachi from Dacca in February 
1974: 

"On March 25, 1971, armed Awami Leaguers had looted our house 
and beaten up my husband, Abdur Rahman, who had resisted them. 
My three young sons were away from the house when the raid took 
place. They were brave boys and they took an oath to punish the 
thugs. In April 1971, they joined the Razakar Force and taught a 
lesson to many of the Bengali thugs who had looted the homes of 
non-Bengalis in March. 

"In the third week of December 1971, when the Indian Army and 
the Mukti Bahini captured Dacca, my three sons were killed in 
action. On December 17, 1971, an armed gang of 30 Bengalis 
raided our home and brutally killed my husband. At gunpoint, they 
ordered me to leave the house with my three children. I headed for 
the woods nearby. We lived on water and wild fruits and we slept 
on leaves. The cries of my starving children caused me pain and 
agony. I thought of suicide and headed towards the railway line. 
God wanted to save us. A foreign Red Cross team was passing our 
way in a jeep and they motioned us to stop. When I told them of 
our plight, they took us to the Red Cross Relief Camp in 
Mohammedpur where we lived for more than two years". 



Noor Jahan, 33, whose husband, Mukhtar Ahmed, was employed 
in the Telegraph and Telephone Department in Dacca and who lived in the 
Government staff Quarters in Gulistan colony, said on her repatriation to 
Karachi in January 1974: 

"We had escaped the March 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis in 
Dacca. But in the third week of December 1971, after the Indian 

37 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Army and the Mukti Bahini occupied Dacca, my husband was 
murdered by a gang of armed Bengalis. Some 20 armed men raided 
my house soon after his death, and looted every article of value. 
They turned us out of the house at gunpoint and we were on the 
streets. Another gang of armed Bengalis drove us to a large 
building where some 500 Bihari women and children, whose 
husbands had been kidnapped for murder, were lodged. We were 
told that any one found escaping would be shot. We prayed to God 
for the safety of our children. After five days of hunger and torture, 
a Red Cross team took us to a Relief Camp in Mohammedpur in 
Dacca. Life in the Relief Camp was an ordeal because the Mukti 
Bahini jingoes used to kidnap the Bihari young men and women by 
the scores every week. No one was sure that he would be alive the 
next morning. Many did not sleep for nights on end. At night, 
women whose husbands or sons had been slaughtered before them 
would shriek and wail as the memory of their dear ones haunted 
them". 

Anwari Begum, 30, whose husband, Syed Mustafa Hussain, was 
employed in the Telegraph and Telephone Department in Dacca, lived in 
their own house in the Mirpur locality. Repatriated to Karachi from Dacca 
with her children, in October 1973, Anwari said: 

"In the March 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis in East Pakistan, 
every member of my family, including my parents, was slaughtered 
in Dinajpur where my father owned a house and some property. In 
the third week of March 1971, a gang of armed Bengali thugs 
looted my house in Mirpur but my husband escaped the massacre 
because he was away on duty in his office. 

"In the third week of December 1971, my husband was murdered 
by a Mukti Bahini gang and his dead body was delivered at my 
house by a posse of Indian troops deployed in our locality. His neck 
was severed and some parts of his body were mutilated. 

"Shortly afterwards, we were driven out of our house by the Mukti 
Bahini and lodged in a Red Cross Camp " 



Allah Rakhee, 45, whose husband, Mohammed Yusuf, was a 

38 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



thriving businessman in Dacca and who lived in their own house in Block 
D in the Mirpur locality, had this poignant memory of the tragedy in her 
life in March and December 1971: 

"In the third week of March 1971, a gang of Awami League 
volunteers had looted our house when I was all alone in it. They 
said that they would kidnap my husband and my two teenage sons 
but the federal army routed the rebels and we had peace for nine 
months. 

"On December 17, after the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini had 
captured Dacca, a score of armed Bengalis raided my house. They 
shot my aged husband in the compound of our house. I had hidden 
my two sons in the lavatory. Just when the killer gang was about to 
leave, one of the raiders stepped into the lavatory and saw my two 
sons who cried to escape. He shouted for help and the whole gang 
rushed inside and overpowered my sons. They dragged the two 
boys to the compound and, before my dazed eyes, shot them dead. 
The killers slapped me, and, at the point of a bayonet, they drove 
me in their truck to the Red Cross Camp. My eldest son had joined 
the Pakistan Army. I have no news of him. I learnt that the Mukti 
Bahini threw the dead bodies of my husband and my two sons into 
the river " 

"I had a glimpse of the fiendish slaughter-house set up for 
murdering hapless non-Bengalis in Dacca", said 25-year-old Salma 
Khatoon, after her repatriation to Karachi from Dacca in January 1974. 
Her slain husband, Nazar Alam Khan, was employed in the State Bank of 
Pakistan in Dacca. She testified: 

"In the last week of March 1971, the Bengali rebels had murdered 
the parents and elder brother of my husband in Rangpur. In the 
third week of March, some armed Bengali thugs had looted my 
house in the Bashabo locality near Kamlapur station in Dacca. But 
my husband had escaped their murderous search. 



"In the third week of December 1971, when the Indian Army and 
the Mukti Bahini ruled Dacca, he went to his office and did not 

39 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



return home. In the night of December 18, a posse of Bengali 
gunmen looted my house and told me that I should leave it although 
we owned it. When my husband did not return even on the third 
day, I went to his office. The office was locked from outside. 
Through a window I saw a group of tough-looking men burning old 
records, bank notes and registers. I also peeped inside a dark store 
room which had large blood stains and torn clothes. This, I believe, 
was used as a kind of abattoir for killing non-Bengali Bank 
employees. I met the wife of a Bengali colleague of my husband in 
the adjacent staff quarters for Bank employees. She told me that a 
Mukti Bahini gang had raided the Bank on the day my husband 
disappeared and it murdered all the non-Bengali employees on 
duty. They had dumped the bodies, she said, into a hastily dug pit at 
the back of the office building 

"My orphaned children and I lived for two years in the Red Cross 
Camp. The Mukti Bahini seized my house and told me that the 
Biharis would not be permitted to own even an inch of land in 
Bangladesh " 

"For two hours, my house in Mohammedpur was riddled and 
pocked with bullets by a gang of armed Bengali marauders late in March 
1971", said Qaiser Jahan, 22, who escaped to Nepal from East Pakistan in 
1972 and was repatriated to Karachi in December 1973. 

Qaiser Jahan and her husband, Aziz Hussain, a prosperous 
businessman, lived in their own house on Noor Jahan Road in the 
Mohammedpur locality in Dacca. They had escaped the March 1971 
massacre of non-Bengalis and the gunmen who fired on her house did not 
loot it. But in the third week of December 1971, when the Indian Army and 
the Mukti Bahini seized East Pakistan, her misfortunes began. Early in 
December 1971, her husband had gone on a business visit to Chittagong. 
Weeks passed and there was no news of him. Qaiser Jahan heard of the 
massacre of non-Bengalis in Chittagong on December 17, 1971. The next 
day, at midnight, a gang of armed Mukti Bahini soldiers attacked the 
Mohammedpur locality and they continued machine-gunning her house till 
the early hours of the morning. Panic-stricken, she decided to leave for 
Khulna where some relatives of hers lived. Qaiser Jahan said: 



40 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"I sold off my gold earrings and bangles and paid an exorbitant fee 
to an agent to take us to Calcutta. Another agent, who smuggled 
human beings from India to Nepal, charged me a fat sum of money 
to take us to Kathmandu. We lived there in abject poverty for many 
months. The United Nations repatriated us to Karachi in December 
1973 " 

Kulsoom, 35, whose husband, Abdul Kareem, had his own small 
business firm in Dacca, lived in their own house on Jagannath Saha Road. 
She was widowed early in 1971. Her 24 year old son was employed in a 
trading firm in central Dacca. In the third week of March 1971, a gang of 
armed Awami Leaguers raided and looted her house. Her son was not at 
home when the raiders came. But in December 1971, Kulsoom' s little 
world was shattered: 

"It was December 12. My son, Mohammad Yasin, had gone to his 
office. My son was a brave young man. He said he was not 
frightened by India's bombing and would go to work. In the 
evening, I was stunned when some Civil Defence workers brought 
me his battered dead body. He was killed when Indian aircraft 
bombed the building where he worked 

"I was benumbed by the loss of my son. In the third week of 
December 1971, a Mukti Bahini gang raided and looted my house 
and threw me and my three small children on the streets. We lived 
for more than two years in a Red Cross Camp in Dacca. In February 
1974, we were repatriated to Pakistan". 

Ayesha Begum, 40, who was repatriated to Karachi from Dacca, 
with her three orphaned children, in December 1973, testified: 

"In the third week of March 1971, a gang of armed Awami 
Leaguers had fired on our house in Mirpur in Dacca but the 
appearance of an Army patrol made them run away 



"For nine months, my husband, Abdul Bari, a Bank employee, 
lived in peace in our house in Mirpur. But in the third week of 
December 1971, a posse of Mukti Bahini soldiers, led by some 

41 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



gangsters of our locality, came to my house and looted it. They 
ordered us to leave the house at once and go to the Red Cross 
Camp. Just then my husband returned home from work and in a 
matter of minutes the killer gang overpowered him and shot him in 
the chest. I was stunned and utterly speechless. One of them 
slapped me and threatened that if I did not vacate the house 
immediately I would be killed. I begged them to give me some time 
to bury my husband but they refused. I appealed to them in the 
name of God and two of them agreed to help me in burying my 
husband. We dug a grave in an open space nearby and laid him to 
eternal rest. My children and I walked to the Red Cross Camp 
where we lived for two years " 

Najmunnissa, 30, and her three orphaned children were repatriated from 
Dacca to Karachi in January 1974 after they had spent two years in the Red 
Cross Camp in Mohammedpur. Her husband was an employee of the East 
Pakistan Government and he owned a small house in Mirpur where he and 
his family lived. In the third week of March 1971, when he was away on 
duty, some armed thugs had looted his house. In the third week of 
December 1971, the Mukti Bahini murdered him while he was on his way 
to his office. A Mukti Bahini gang raided Najmunnissa' s house in the 
evening of December 18 th and told her that her husband had been executed. 
They gave her no clues to the whereabouts of his dead body. Brandishing 
sten guns, the raiders ordered her to leave the house at once as the Bengalis 
returning from India had to be accommodated. Najmunnissa said: 

"I was a widow; my children were orphans. My tormentors shoved 
a gun in my face to force me to quit the house where we had lived 
for years. We were on the streets. Subsequently, the thugs changed 
their mind and carted us away to a big building where many 
hundreds of hapless non-Bengali women and children were herded. 
The male members of their families had been liquidated by the 
Mukti Bahini in human abattoirs. Life in the captivity of the Mukti 
Bahini in this prison was a hell. A Red Cross team located us and 
took us to a Camp in Mohammedpur. They said our Bengali captors 
were planning our murder in the building and we were saved in the 
nick of time." 



42 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Some eye-witnesses from Dacca said that their relatives had been 
subjected to violence by the Awami league militants at a number of places 
not far from Dacca. Some of the towns named by these witnesses are: 
Keraniganj, Joydebpur, Munshiganj, Rupganj, Madaripur, Pubail, 
Tangibari, Chandpur, Matlab Bazar, Hajiganj and Baidya Bazar. Many 
non-Bengali families fled from these small towns to Dacca after the 
Awami League's terrorisation campaign gained momentum in the third and 
fourth weeks of March 1971. Quite a few non-Bengali families, witnesses 
said, were killed by the Bengali rebels in the last week of March 1971. 
Their houses were looted. Money was extorted by thugs from some well- 
to-do non-Bengali businessmen engaged in trade at these places. In 
Joydebpur, 22 miles from Dacca, an armed mob, led by Awami League 
militants, put up barricades on the rail track and the main highway to block 
troop movement on March 19, 1971. A posse of Pakistani troops 
exchanged fire with the rebel gunmen in the mob. A rebel was killed and 
two soldiers were wounded. 

In the last week of March 1971, a killer gang looted many non- 
Bengali houses in Keraniganj and Munshiganj and murdered some non- 
Bengali men. In Chandpur, violence against the non-Bengalis spiralled in 
the third and fourth weeks of March 1971 but the death toll was not large. 
In Baidya Bazar, the rebel gangs wiped out a dozen non-Bengali families 
and looted their property. Thugs ambushed and held up some non-Bengali 
businessmen for ransom. In Pubail and Tangi-bari, the Awami League 
militants and their rebel confederates murdered dozens of affluent Biharis. 
Shops owned by the Biharis were a favourite target of attack. Kidnapping 
of teenage girls was also reported from these places. The Awami League 
militants and the rebels ravished the kidnapped non-Bengali girls and shot 
them before the federal army controlled the area. This was obviously with 
the intention of eliminating evidence and witnesses of their crimes. But in 
areas bordering on India, the retreating Bengali rebels carried away with 
them the non-Bengali girls whom they had kidnapped and ravished. 



43 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER TWO 

Terror in Narayanganj 

"The killer gang had orders to murder every non-Bengali in our 
factory", said Asghar Ali Khan, 38, who was employed as an Overseer in 
the Pakistan Fabric Company's factory in Narayanganj, an industrial 
township close to Dacca. 

He gave this pathetic account of the slaughter of non-Bengalis in 
March 1971 in Narayanganj: 

"The non-Bengali population resident in Narayanganj was not 
large. Many non-Bengalis worked by day in Narayanganj and 
commuted in the evening to their homes in nearby Dacca. 

"Since the first week of March, Awami League militants were at 
work in Narayanganj, inciting the Bengali mill workers against the 
non-Bengalis. They had marked the houses of non-Bengalis by the 
middle of the month 



"On March 21, a large, violent mob of yelling Awami Leaguers 
attacked the factory and the quarters where the non-Bengali 
employees and their families lived. They did not damage the 
factory but they butchered the non-Bengali employees and their 
families. I was the sole occupant of my quarter and I slipped into 
the house of a very dear Bengali friend when the Awami League's 
raid began. He hid me in his house and I was saved. 

"In the afternoon of March 26, after the Bengali rebels had been 
routed, the federal troops visited our factory and arranged the mass 
burial of the 160 dead bodies of non-Bengalis which lay stacked in 
their quarters " 

"The killer gang had looted the houses of the victims and every 
article of value had vanished", said Asghar Ali Khan. 

Witnesses said that the Awami League demagogues, in their 
harangues to the Bengali millhands, told them that the unemployed 
Bengalis would get factory jobs if the non-Bengali employees were 

44 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



liquidated. The non-Bengali employees were known by the generic name 
of Biharis. 

"Four armed thugs dragged two captive non-Bengali teenage girls 
into an empty bus and violated their chastity before gunning them to 
death", said Gulzar Hussain, 38, who witnessed the massacre of 22 non- 
Bengali men, women and children on March 21, 1971, close to a bus stand 
in Narayanganj. Repatriated to Karachi in November 1973, Gulzar Hussain 
reported: 

"I was engaged in the Jute Trade in Narayanganj and I lived in a 
rented house not far from the commercial hub of the town. Since 
the first week of March 1971, the Awami Leaguers were trying to 
stir up trouble in Narayanganj and their goal was to wipe out the 
non-Bengali population 

"On March 21, our Dacca-bound bus was stopped on the way, soon 
after it left the heart of the city. I was seated in the front portion of 
the bus and I saw that the killer gang had guns, scythes and 
daggers. The gunmen raised 'Joi Bangla' and anti-Pakistan slogans. 
The bus driver obeyed their signal to stop and the thugs motioned 
to the passengers to get down. A jingo barked out the order that 
Bengalis and non-Bengalis should fall into separate lines. As I 
spoke Bengali with a perfect Dacca accent and could easily pass for 
a Bengali, I joined the Bengali group of passengers. The killer gang 
asked us to utter a few sentences in Bengali which we did. I passed 
the test and our tormentors instructed the Bengalis to scatter. The 
thugs then gunned all the male non-Bengalis. It was a horrible 
scene. Four of the gunmen took for their loot two young non- 
Bengali women and raped them inside the empty bus. After they 
had ravished the girls, the killers shot them and half a dozen other 
women and children. Some shops, owned by non-Bengalis in 
Narayanganj, were looted by riotous mobs on that day". 



Nasima Khatoon, 25, lived in a rented house in the Pancho Boti 
locality in Narayanganj. Her husband, Mohammed Qamrul Hasan, was 
employed in a Vegetable Oil manufacturing factory. Repatriated to Karachi 
in January 1974, along with her 4 year old orphaned daughter, from a Red 
Cross Camp in Dacca, Nasima gave this hair-raising account of her travail 

45 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



in 1971: 



"Since March 3, there was tension in Narayanganj. The Awami 
Leaguers were inciting the Bengali labourers to kill the non 
Bengalis. In the night of March 25, a Bengali mob, led by Awami 
League militants, tried to loot the houses of non-Bengalis in our 
locality but the cowards melted away when the news of the Army's 
action against the rebels reached them 

"On December 16, when the surrender decision of the Pakistan 
Army in Dacca to the Indian Army was announced, violent crowds 
of Bengali militants went on the rampage against the non-Bengalis 
in Narayanganj. A killer gang attacked my house and stole all my 
ornaments, my clothes, crockery and the furniture. The thugs did 
not spare even the kitchenware and house hold linen. My husband 
was away in Dacca when the killer gang came to my house 

"At gun-point, our captors made us leave our house and marched us 
to an open square where more than 500 non-Bengali old men, 
women and children were detained. Some 30 Bengali gunmen led 
us through swampy ground towards a deserted school building. On 
the way, the 3-year-old child of a hapless captive Woman died in 
her arms. She asked her captors to allow her to dig a small grave 
and bury the child. The tough man in the lead snorted a sharp 'No', 
snatched the body of the dead child from her wailing mother and 
tossed it into a river along whose bank we dragged our feet in 
physical exhaustion. The killers pushed all their captives into the 
school building. I wanted water to slake my parched throat; the 
gunman, who headed our group, slapped me, struck me in the arm 
with his rifle-butt and pushed me inside the jam-packed hall 



"For a week, we lived in what was virtually a hell. Every night, we 
heard threats and abuses from our captors. One of the captive 
women feigned acute stomach ache and begged her captors to let 
her go to a hospital in Dacca for treatment. She was old and looked 
a saintly woman. The Bengali captors allowed her to go to Dacca. 
A very intelligent woman, she raced to Mohammedpur where she 
told the Red Cross Officials about the plight of the 500 Bihari 
captive women and children. Two teams of officials of the 

46 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



International Red Cross came to our rescue and took us to their 
Camp in Mirpur. Twice our Camp was attacked by the Mukti 
Bahini gunmen, and some of the inmates, including two ailing 
young women, were killed by gunfire. By April, 1972, there was 
some improvement in the situation and the nocturnal kidnapping of 
its Bihari inmates by the Bengali marauders lessened. The Red 
Cross Officials tried their best to trace out my missing husband but 
he was not found. Like many thousands of other non-Bengalis, he 
was, it is presumed, done to death by rampaging killer gangs, 
inebriated with the victory of the Indian Army and the Mukti 
Bahini". 

"I saw the rebels burning dozens of jute godowns in Narayanganj and 
throwing the dead bodies of murdered non-Bengalis into the flames", 
said 52-year-old Allah Rakha, who worked as a jute broker in 
Narayanganj. He lived in a rented house in the Patuatoly locality of Dacca. 
Repatriated to Karachi in March 1974, he said: 

"After the mid- 1960' s, most of the non-Bengali traders in 
Narayanganj and Dacca were apprehensive that some day it would 
become difficult for them to do business in East Pakistan. The 
Awami League leaders were spreading poison against West 
Pakistanis in the minds of the simple Bengali common folks of East 
Pakistan 

"After March 3, 1971, I found that the Awami League's campaign 
to foster hatred for non-Bengalis amongst the Bengalis had made its 
impact and many of my Bengali friends in the jute trade were 
critical of us 

"On March 17, the volcano erupted, and a large killer gang, led by 
the Awami League militants, went on the rampage in the premises 
of the Ispahani Jute Company. They slaughtered many hundreds of 
non-Bengalis, including women and children, living in the Ispahani 
Colony, and flung the dead bodies into the Sitalakhya River. I was 
saved because I went into hiding inside a closed office building to 
which I had access " 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER THREE 

Human Abattoirs in Chittagong 

The Awami League's rebellion of March 1971 took the heaviest toll 
of non-Bengali lives in the populous port city of Chittagong. Although the 
Government of Pakistan's White Paper of August 1971 on the East 
Pakistan crisis estimated the non-Bengali death toll in Chittagong and its 
neighbouring townships during the Awami League's insurrection to be a 
little under 15,000, the testimony of hundreds of eye-witnesses interviewed 
for this book gives the impression that more than 50,000 non-Bengalis 
perished in the March 1971 carnage. Thousands of dead bodies were flung 
into the Karnaphuli river and the Bay of Bengal. Many of those innocents 
who were tortured and killed in the seventeen slaughter-houses set up by 
the Bengali rebels in the city and its vicinity were incinerated in houses put 
to the torch. 

The target of the Bengali rebels, it seemed, was to wipe out every 
non-Bengali male above 12 years of age. Along with the massacre of the 
non-Bengali menfolk, many of their women and children, spared in the 
first phase of the pogrom, were done to death by the Bengali rebels in the 
last days of March and the first week of April 1971. The element of 
savagery in the mass slaughter in Chittagong was perhaps far more vicious 
than at any other place in the province, possibly with the exception of 
Khulna, Jessore, Dinajpur and Mymensingh. 

The volcano of fire and death erupted in this picturesque city of 
green hills, rivers and luxuriant tropical vegetation on March 3 soon after 
the Awami League's high command in Dacca took to the path of rebellion. 
Late at night, a violent mob, led by gun-totting Awami League storm 
troopers, invaded the non-Bengali settlements in the city and looted and 
burnt thousands of houses and hutments. The populous Wireless Colony 
and Ferozeshah Colony bore the brunt of the rebel attack. In the latter 
locality alone, 700 houses were set ablaze and most of their inmates — men, 
women and children — were burnt to death. Many, who escaped from their 
blazing houses, were shot in their tracks by the rebel gunmen. 

Stray survivors of this wanton massacre described the gory 
spectacle of fire and destruction as "hell on earth". Affluent non-Bengalis 
were kidnapped for ransom and subsequently tortured and killed in 
slaughter-houses. Eye-witnesses said that a high-ranking member of the 

48 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Awami League High Command, M. R. Siddiki, master-minded and 
supervised the grisly massacre of the non-Bengalis in Chittagong. After the 
March 3 nocturnal baptism of fire, the rebels felt emboldened to attack 
other non-Bengali habitations in the city. Killer gangs looted and burnt 
hundreds of non-Bengali houses in Raufabad, Halishahar, Dotala, 
Kalurghat, Hamzabad, and Pahartali localities. Non-Bengali men, 
kidnapped from their houses, were taken by the rebels to slaughter-houses 
and done to death. 

All through the first fortnight of March, the process of phased 
liquidation of the non-Bengali male population was continued in 
Chittagong and its neighbouring areas. The Awami League leadership 
trained its volunteers in the use of firearms, some looted from arms shops 
and the police armoury and many smuggled from India. The Army and 
Navy personnel had instructions not to shoot unless they were attacked; the 
local police had become ineffective. Thus the law and order machinery in 
Chittagong was totally paralysed. The civic fire fighting unit, manned 
mostly by Bengalis, had lapsed into a coma; fire engines which tried to 
reach the burning shanties were wrecked by the rebels. 

In the third week of March, the terror regime of the rebels in 
Chittagong was so firmly established that they challenged even the military 
personnel in the area. Late in the night of March 18, armed killer gangs 
went on the rampage in every residential colony where non-Bengalis lived. 
For many thousands of non-Bengalis, it was "the night of long knives and 
blazing guns". Killer gangs burst into homes, asked no questions and 
sprayed gunfire on the inmates. "Shoot anything that moves in the house of 
a non-Bengali" was the order to the killer gangs and they observed it with 
sadist devotion. 

On March 23, Pakistan's National Festival Day which the Awami 
League renamed as "Resistance Day", the rebels held massive displays of 
their strength, tore up the Pakistan flag at a number of places and again 
went on the rampage against non-Bengalis at night. The Awami League 
storm troopers were reinforced by the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles, 
the para-military Ansars and the local police. The rebels were well-armed 
and appeared to have a surfeit of ammunition supply. On March 25, the 
rebels went on the warpath against Army and Navy personnel in 
Chittagong' s port area and tried to block all the access roads leading to the 
city. They erected huge barricades on the highway from the suburban 
locality of Agrabad to the Port area of Chittagong to prevent the transport 

49 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



of military personnel and arms to the Army cantonment. They dug trenches 
on the main road, and piled up burnt trucks and lorries and bitumen drums 
all along the highway to block vehicular traffic. Warehoused munition in 
the Port area was looted by the rebels. Bengali troops from the East Bengal 
Regiment mutinied and joined the rebel force. This was the zero-hour 
setting for the Awami League's armed uprising and total seizure of the 
cantonments in Chittagong and Dacca planned for March 26. 

In a pre-emptive strike late in the night of March 25 in Dacca and 
other important towns in East Pakistan, the federal troops went into action 
against the rebels. But the federal military force in the province was too 
inadequate to contain swiftly the challenge and revolt of the more than 
176,000 armed Bengali rebels. At many places, it took from a week to a 
month for the federal army to retrieve the rebel-controlled areas. In 
Chittagong, the federal troops regained control over strategic parts of the 
city, such as the Port and the Airport, swiftly but a large number of 
residential localities remained under the terror rule of the rebel gunmen till 
April 9, 1971. In this period of hell and fire, many more thousands of non- 
Bengalis were butchered en masse. The operational headquarter of the 
rebels was located at the East Bengal Regimental Centre in Chittagong and 
the principal human abattoir was housed in the main town office of the 
Awami League. It had torture cells and a chamber of horror where blood 
was drained through syringes from the bodies of non-Bengali victims 
before they were killed by their inhuman captors. 

The killing of the non-Bengali employees and their families in the 
Usmania Glass Works, Hafiz Jute Mill, Ispahani Jute Mill and other 
factories in Chittagong and the Amin Jute Mills at Bibirhat and the 
Karnaphuli Paper and Rayon Mills at Chandraghona and its neighbourhood 
surpassed the savagery of the Huns. Most of the massacres at these places 
were conducted by the rebels in the last five days of March and some early 
in April 1971. In many localities, there were hardly any non-Bengali 
survivors — so thorough and complete was the racist pogrom of the rebels. 

In the notorious slaughter-house in the Government Rest House in 
Chittagong, about 4,000 non-Bengalis were done to death. Blood was taken 
out of their bodies and corneas were extracted from their eyes by Bengali 
doctors who had become the tools of the rebels. The corpses were dumped 
in hurriedly-dug, shallow pits. Any victim who showed signs of life was 
shot in the skull. 

The Awami League militants had compelled some Bengali Imams 

50 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



(priests) in the Mosques to decree the killing of the Biharis as a religious 
duty of the Bengali Muslims. In a mosque, near the office of the 
Chittagong Fire Brigade, half a dozen non-Bengalis, who had been 
kidnapped from their homes by killer gangs, were murdered. 

In the Kalurghat industrial area, some 5,000 non-Bengalis, 
including 300 women, were butchered by the Bengali rebels. Not more 
than a score of non-Bengalis survived the Kalurghat massacre. The non- 
Bengali women were raped by their captors — some on the roads in broad 
daylight — before being shot. 

Savage killings also took place in the Halishahar, Kalurghat and 
Pahartali localities where the Bengali rebel soldiers poured petrol and 
kerosene oil around entire blocks, igniting them with flame-throwers and 
petrol-soaked jute balls, then mowed down the non-Bengali innocents 
trying to escape the cordons of fire. In the wanton slaughter in the last 
week of March and early April, 1971, some 40,000 non-Bengalis perished 
in Chittagong and its neighbourhood. The exact death toll — which could 
possibly be much more — will never be known because of the practice of 
burning dead bodies or dumping them in the river and the sea. Many of the 
rampaging rebels were Hindus who desecrated Mosques and Muslim 
shrines and burnt copies of the Holy Quran. 

Eye-witnesses, interviewed for this book, described M.R. Siddiki, a 
director of the genocide operation against non-Bengalis, as the "Butcher of 
Chittagong". They charged that the slayings in the human abattoir in the 
Awami Leagued main town office were conducted under his personal 
command. "Kill the bastards" was his order of the day to his hatchetmen 
for murdering the non-Bengali innocents. As the rebel casualties mounted 
in engagements with the federal troops and the Bengali doctors asked for 
more blood for transfusion, M.R. Siddiki ordered his men to drain out 
blood from their non-Bengali victims in the slaughter-house before slaying 
them. He even suggested limb-grafting from non-Bengali victims to 
disabled Bengali rebels. Piled up dead bodies in the slaughter-houses, in 
the last days of March, 1971, were flung into pits and covered with mud, 
rubble and foliage. 

As the rebels felt the crunch of the federal army and retreated, they 
massacred, with automatic weapons, many hundreds of helpless women 
and children who were herded and starved for days in mosques and school 
buildings. Aside from the wholesale abridgement of the male element in 
the non-Bengali population in Chittagong, several thousands of non- 
51 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Bengali girls and young women (14 to 30 years of age) were kidnapped by 
the rebels and ravished, some in mass sex assault chambers in guarded 
houses in the vicinity of the operational bases of the Bengali rebels. Sadists 
among the rebels took pleasure in forcing captive non-Bengali mothers to 
see the slaying of their sons or husbands. 

After the federal army liberated Chittagong from the demonic rule 
of the rebels, the non-Bengali survivors resumed the broken threads of their 
lives and repaired their burnt out and devastated houses. But on December 
17, 1971, their shattered world collapsed when the victorious Indian Army 
and the Mukti Bahini seized East Pakistan. Many thousands of non- 
Bengalis were killed, their families were driven out of their repaired homes 
and the survivors were herded in Relief Camps set up by the Red Cross. 

The Washington Evening Star reported on May 12, 1971 the 
following story from Mort Resenblum who was one of the six foreign 
newsmen who toured East Pakistan early in May 1971: 

"In the port city of Chittagong, a blood- spattered doll lies in a heap 
of clothing and excrement in a jute mill recreation club where 

Bengalis butchered 180 women and children Bengalis killed 

some West Pakistanis in flurries of chauvinism. Bengali civilians 
and liberation troops began mass slaughter of Mohajirs (Indian 
migrants) from the Indian State of Bihar and raced through market 
places and settlements, stabbing, shooting and burning, sometimes 
stopping to rape and loot " 

The Washington Evening Star, in its May 12, 1971 issue, also 
carried the following despatch of the Associated Press of America wire 
service: 

"Newsmen visiting this key port yesterday said there was massive 

shell and fire damage and evidence of sweeping massacre of 

civilians by rebels 

"At the jute mills owned by the influential Ispahani family, 
newsmen saw the mass graves of 152 non-Bengali women and 
children reportedly executed last month by secessionist rebels in the 
Mills' recreation club. 



"Bloody clothing and toys were still on the floor of the bullet 
pocked Club. Responsible sources said thousands of West 

52 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Pakistanis and Indian migrants (Muslims settled in East Pakistan 
since 1947) were put to death in Chittagong between March 25, 
when the East Pakistan rebellion began to seek independence from 
the Western Wing, and April 11 when the Army recaptured the 
city 

"Residents pointed to one burned out department building where 
they said Bengalis burned to death three hundred and fifty Pathans 
from West Pakistan". 

In a despatch from Chittagong, Malcolm Browne of the New York 
Times reported on May 10, 1971: 

" But before the Army came, when Chittagong was still 

governed by the secessionist Awami League and its allies, Bengali 
workers, apparently resentful of the relative prosperity of Bihari 
immigrants from India, are said to have killed the Biharis in large 
numbers " 

The Sunday Times of London published in its issue of May 2, 1971 
a dispatch from its Pakistan Correspondent, Anthony Mascarenhas, who 
had toured the rebellion-hit areas of East Pakistan in the first fortnight of 
April, 1971. He reported: 

"In Chittagong, the colonel commanding the Military Academy was 
killed while his wife, eight months' pregnant, was raped and 
bayoneted in the abdomen. In another part of Chittagong, an East 
Pakistan Rifles Officer was flayed alive. His two sons were 
beheaded and his wife was bayoneted in the abdomen and left to die 
with her son's head placed on her naked body. The bodies of many 
young girls have been found with Bangladesh flagsticks protruding 
from their wombs 

"The worst- affected towns were Chittagong and Khulna where the 
West Pakistanis were concentrated " 

The "Northern Echo" of Darlington in Durham, in its issue of April 7, 
1971, said: 



'Leon Lumsden, an American engineer on a U.S. aid project, said 

53 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



that for two weeks before the Army moved last week, Chittagong' s 
predominantly Bengali population had been but cheering West 
Pakistanis in the port " 

Some 5,000 non-Bengali refugees from the Awami League's terror 
in Chittagong, who arrived in Karachi on board a ship in the third week of 
March 1971, related harrowing stories of the genocide launched against the 
non-Bengalis. The federal government prohibited their publication in the 
West Pakistan Press to prevent reprisals against the local Bengalis. 

Mohammed Israil, 40, who lived in Quarter No. 28 in the Ispahani 
New Colony in the Pahartali locality in Chittagong, lost his sister, his 
brother-in-law and his infant nephew in the massacre of non-Bengalis on 
March 3, 1971. He thus spoke of the tragedy which almost wrecked his 
life: 

"We had lived in Chittagong for the past many years and all of us 
spoke Bengali. I was engaged in business and I lived with my sister 
and her husband in their house in Pahartali 



"In the afternoon of March 3, about five thousand Bengali 
demonstrators, led by Awami League militants, attacked the 
Ispahani Colony where non-Bengalis lived in large numbers. The 
raiders bore blazing torches and some had guns. Without any 
provocation from our side, the killer mob went on the rampage. 
They poured kerosene oil and petrol on houses and set them ablaze. 
As the inmates rushed out, the killer gang mowed them with 
gunfire 

"A gang of ten armed rebels smashed the door of our house and 
burst in with blazing guns. They shot my brother-in-law who died 
on the spot. I was wounded and I feigned death. My sister, who 
grappled with the attackers, was bayoneted. The killers tore her 
suckling child from her arms and shot him just as she lay in her 
death agony. Later on, the killers looted our house and set it ablaze. 
I succeeded in crawling into the compound where I stayed in hiding 
for some days. The killer gang burnt every house in this colony of 
about 2,000 non-Bengalis. They hurled many of the dead bodies 
into the blazing houses " 

54 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Mohammed Israil underwent fresh ordeals after December 17, 1971 
when India seized East Pakistan. In December 1973, he was repatriated to 
Karachi. 

"Some decent Bengalis were shocked at the heinous conduct of the 
Awami League gangs and their wanton murder of non-Bengalis but they 
were helpless. The killers had the guns," said Mohammed Israil. 

"The success of the Awami League gangs in their murderous spree 
of March 3 gave them encouragement and convinced them that they would 
not encounter any opposition from the police and the army in their plan to 
exterminate the non-Bengalis", he added. 

Noor Mohammed Siddiqui, 23, who lived with his patents in a 
rented house in the Ferozshah Colony in Chittagong, had this poignant 
recollection of the March 3, 1971 massacre there: 

"In the forenoon of March 3, about 5,000 armed and yelling Awami 
League activists and their supporters raided the Ferozshah Colony. 
With them were some armed rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles. 
They wore their usual on-duty uniforms. Without any provocation 
from the non-Bengalis, the raiding mob went berserk. The Awami 
league militants looted hundreds of houses and burnt them by 
sprinkling a mixture of petrol and kerosene oil. As the inmates ran 
out, the killer gangs shot them at point blank range. It was God's 
mercy that I escaped their murderous onslaught. 



"I hid myself in a store room when the attackers came. When I 
emerged from hiding, I saw many hundreds of burnt houses in our 
locality. The stench of burning flesh pervaded the locality. Some of 
the victims, who were thought to be dead by the killers, writhed in 
agony and relief took long to come. The police had vanished. Killer 
gangs were again on the loose in our locality all through the next 
day. Many non-Bengalis who tried to escape from this blazing 
inferno of a colony were done to death on the roads outside. At 
night, the killers kidnapped many non-Bengali girls and raped them 
in houses whose inmates were murdered. Many children were 
tossed into houses aflame and their mothers were forced at gunpoint 
to watch the gruesome scene. In two days of terror and fire, 
Fcrozeshah Colony looked like an atom-bombed township " 

55 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Noor Mohammad lost most of his relatives in the March 1971 
massacres in East Pakistan. In April, 1971, he left Chittagong and came to 
Karachi. 

"The scenes of that dreadful month are scared in my memory. 
Whole groups of adult people, it seemed, had gone mad with the urge to 
kill, burn, loot and rape. All the victims of this bloodlust were non- 
Bengalis. Some pro-Pakistan Bengalis, who tried to save their non-Bengali 
friends, were severely punished and even done to death", said Noor 
Mohammad. 



Forty-year-old Sharifan, whose two adult sons and husband were 
slaughtered before her dazed eyes on March 3, 1971, had this painful 
memory: 

"My husband, Shamsul Haque, who was employed in a trading firm 
in Chittagong, my two grown-up sons and I lived in a hut in the 
Latifabad locality in Chittagong. On March 3, a violent mob of 
Bengalis attacked the non-Bengali hutments and houses in our 
locality. They set hundreds of huts and houses ablaze. They either 
shot the non-Bengali men or took them away in trucks as captives. 
Some non-Bengalis, who tried to escape from their burning houses, 
were mowed with rifle- fire; many perished in the 
conflagration " 

"A killer gang looted my hut and then set it ablaze. As we ran out, 
one of the killers opened fire on us. My two sons were injured. My 
husband and I were utterly helpless; I tore my Sari to bandage their 
wounds but in about ten minutes' time they were cold and dead. 
Wailing in anguish, we sought shelter in the mosque nearby. My 
husband, who was heart-broken, kneeled in prayer to the Almighty 
God. I washed the stains of my sons' blood from my torn Sari. Just 
then there was a loud yelling and a killer mob swarmed into the 
mosque. They said they would kill all the non-Bengali men 
sheltered in the mosque. I fell on my knees and begged them to 
spare our menfolk as most of them were advanced in age. One of 
the attackers struck me with his boot. There was a rifle shot and, to 
my horror, I saw my loving husband falling to the ground as blood 

56 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



gushed from his chest. I fainted and remained unconscious for some 
hours. 

"The women in the mosque, whose dear ones had been shot and 
killed, moved their dead bodies to a corner in the compound of the 
mosque, made sheets from their Saris and covered up the corpses. 
We had no axe or shovel with which we could dig graves for our 
dead. We lived in the mosque in tears, fear and terror for more than 
three weeks. Late in March, the federal troops lodged us in a Relief 
Camp in a school building. After the Indian occupation of East 
Pakistan in December 1971, the Mukti Bahini harassed us but the 
Red Cross saved and helped us. We were repatriated to Karachi in 
February 1974". 

Syed Sami Ahmed, 37, the lone survivor of a family of eight 
members, gave this grisly description of the slaughter in the Halishahar 
locality in Chittagong on March 23, 1971: 

"About 4,000 Awami Leaguers, rebel soldiers and other miscreants 
attacked the non-Bengali houses in Halishahar in the forenoon of 
March 23. I was away from my house on work in another part of 
the city. The killer gangs looted my house and killed, with machine 
gunfire, my wife, my four little children, my teenage sister-in-law 
and my 13-year-old brother. The raiders burnt a part of my house. 
Not more than 15 per cent of the non-Bengali population in this 
locality survived the massacres on March 23, 25 and 27, 1971. The 
slaughterers used to tell their victims that they would not leave any 
Bihari alive. By Bihari, they meant any non-Bengali Muslim. 
Amongst the killers were many Hindus. They had plenty of arms 
and ammunition " 

After the federal troops secured Chittagong, Sami Ahmed lived for 
some months in his partly burnt house in Block No. 1-193 in the Halishahar 
locality in Chittagong. After India's seizure of East Pakistan in the third 
week of December 1971, the Mukti Bahini and the Awami Leaguers 
slaughtered more non-Bengalis. He was repatriated to Karachi in 
November 1973. 



Mohammed Nabi Jan, 20, who witnessed the massacre of non- 
57 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Bengalis in the populous Wireless Colony in Chittagong on March 26, 
1971, and lay wounded for three days in a mound of dead bodies, narrated 
his weird, story in these words: 

"Large clusters of non-Bengali houses had existed in the Wireless 
Colony for many years past. In the second week of March 1971, 
armed bands of Awami leaguers marked every non-Bengali house 
with a red sign. As they had set up a Peace Committee, in whose 
meetings they solemnly pledged that they would not harm the non- 
Bengalis, we were not unduly alarmed. From time to time, the 
Awami League volunteers extorted money from us. We had learnt 
of the Awami Leaguers' attacks on non-Bengalis in some other 
parts of the city and we were getting worried. My father and my 
elder brother wanted us to leave Chittagong but all the escape 
routes were blocked by the rebels, So we were resigned to our fate. 
We had no guns with us; we were defenceless 

"In the night of March 26, at about 9 o'clock, a huge mob of 
Bengalis, with blazing guns, attacked the houses of non-Bengalis in 
the Wireless Colony. They had no difficulty in identifying their 
houses as they were red-marked a few days earlier. The killer mob 
divided itself into groups and went on the rampage. Many of the 
killers were uniformed Bengali defectors from the East Bengal 
Regiment and the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles. They broke 
into houses, asked no questions and sprayed gunfire on the inmates. 
After they had killed everything that moved, they looted the houses 
and stole articles of value from even dead bodies. 

"A killer gang stormed our house and broke in with blazing guns. 
In a jiffy, I saw my father and my elder brother fall to the ground in 
a pool of blood. A bullet hit me in the thigh and I collapsed with a 
groan. They kidnapped my sister-in-law at gun-point. I remained 
unconscious for nearly three days. When I awoke, I found that my 
father, though badly wounded, was alive. My brother was dead. In 
the afternoon, the federal troops arrived and we were treated in a 
hospital " 



Nabi Jan, who lived in Quarter No. L-14, G in the Wireless Colony, 
believes that more than 75 per cent of the non-Bengali population in the 

58 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Wireless Colony was exterminated by the rebels during the March 1971 
killings. Many of the survivors were done to death after India's seizure of 
East Pakistan in December 1971. Nabi Jan was repatriated to Pakistan in 
December 1973. 

Osman Ghani, 50, was employed in the Chittagong Port Trust and 
lived in the Bibirhat Colony in the Hamzabad locality in Chittagong. He 
gave this account of the slaughter in his locality in the night of March 26, 
1971 when his only son and his elder brother were gunned to death: 

"A huge mob of Awami League storm troopers, rebel soldiers and 
other cutthroats — all armed with guns and some with machine 
guns — attacked the non-Bengali houses in the Bibirhat Colony at 
about 10 p.m. on March 26. We had lived in terror for many days 
but we had not expected such a ferocious attack and in such huge 
numbers. We had no weapons with us. The Awami Leaguers had 
red-marked our houses in the middle of the month. The raiders, 
firing their guns, smashed into the houses of non-Bengalis and 
riddled all the male inmates with bullets. A killer gang broke the 
door of my house and gunned my elder brother. My wife tried to 
shield our 11 -year-old son and begged the killers for mercy but the 
brutes shot him with a sten gun. They struck my wife with a rifle- 
butt on the head as she leaned over the writhing body of our dear 
little son. That night I was held up in the Port area and escaped 
death by inches. My house was inaccessible for three days. On 
March 29, when I went to my house, I cried in horror over the 
extermination of my family by the Bengali rebels". 

Osman Ghani was repatriated to Pakistan in December 1973. In his 
view, the rebels had started piling up arms for the planned armed uprising 
from the first week of March and India was a source of arms supply. 



Fahmida Begum, 36, whose husband, Ghulam Nabi, was 
employed in a trading firm in Chittagong, saw the horrifying slaughter of 
her husband, her three sons and a little daughter in their house in 
Halishahar in Chittagong on March 23, 1971. In a flurry of sobs and a burst 
of tears, she said: 

"The killer gang tore off the locked door of our house in the course 
of their full-scale raid on our colony in the night of March 23. They 

59 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



machine-gunned my husband who collapsed with blood streaming 
from his chest. When the butchers turned their attention to my three 
young sons I grappled with the killers and snatched one of their 
guns. I did not know how to operate it. Waspishly, a rebel hit me on 
the head with his rifle and I fell down. They trussed me up with 
ropes and said that they would slaughter my children before me. 
One by one, they beheaded my three sons and kicked their severed 
heads. The killers bayoneted my little daughter and I fainted in 
horror. Imprinted on my memory is that dreadful scene — the 
terrorised look in the innocent eyes of my pretty little child, her 
desperate attempt to run towards me as the sharp gleaming edge of 
the bayonet touched her throat and her stifled groan of "Ami 
Bachao" (Mother, Save me). God will certainly punish those 
killers; they were not men but beasts " 

Fahmida lived in a Relief Camp in Chittagong and was repatriated to 
Karachi in February 1974. 

Bashir Hussain, 47, who lived in a small house in Tajpara in the 
Halishahar township in Chittagong, lost his two sons in the massacre of 
non-Bengalis in his locality on March 25, 1971. He was severely wounded 
and the killers left him as dead. But after two days he regained 
consciousness and has lived to tell the world of the tragedy in his life. He 
said in Karachi, after his repatriation from Chittagong, in February 1974: 

"Between March 15 and 26, Halishahar was a special target of 
attack by the rebels. They conducted their genocidal operations 
against the non-Bengalis in various localities of the township every 
day, all through this period of fire and death. 

"On March 25, they attacked my house and machine-gunned me 
and my two grown-up sons. I lost consciousness as I saw my two 
loving sons fall to the ground in a pool of blood. I was hit in the 
back and the thighs. The federal troops rescued me on the fifth day 
and I was treated in a hospital. My two sons were dead 



"The rebels, to a great extent, succeeded in their goal of 
exterminating the male members of non-Bengali families in my 
locality. They kidnapped non-Bengali young women by the 

60 



Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz 

thousands; many were ravished and some brutally killed " 

Shahid Hussain Abdi, 24, whose father worked as a Stores Officer 
in the Ispahani Jute Mills in Chittagong, gave this harrowing account of the 
massacre of non-Bengalis in the Mill area and its neighbourhood and the 
fiendish human abattoir set up by the rebels in the Workers' Recreation 
Club in the Mill premises in March 1971: 

"We lived in the staff quarters of the Ispahani Jute Mills. As Stores 
Officer, my father was kind to all the Mill employees — non- 
Bengalis and Bengalis alike. The number of non-Bengali 
employees and their families, most of whom lived in the Mill area, 
was close to 3,000. Since the middle of March, the Awami League 
militants and their supporters amongst the Bengali millhands were 
belligerently hostile towards the non-Bengalis. Between March 23 
and 28, they raided the houses of the non-Bengalis, hijacked the 
men at gunpoint and butchered them in the slaughter-house set up 
in the factory's Recreation Club. Tortures of unimaginable brutality 
were inflicted on the victims before they were beheaded. There 
were syringes for drawing blood from the veins of the victims and 
for their storage in containers. The rebels carried the blood to their 
hospitals for their wounded soldiers and other jingoes. The killer 
gangs, a couple of days before the Army occupied the area, 
slaughtered hundreds of women and children in this human 
abattoir " 



Shahid Hussain was repatriated to Karachi in the middle of 1973 
from Nepal. He had escaped from Chittagong to Kathmandu in 1972. He 
thinks that nearly 75 per cent of the non-Bengali male population in the 
Ispahani Jute Mills perished in the March 1971 massacre. Many of the non- 
Bengalis slaughtered in the Mill area were buried in mass graves hours 
before the federal army drove out the rebels. 

Mohammed Sharfuddin, 40, who lived in House No. 673 in A 
Block in Halishahar, Chittagong, and worked as a motor mechanic, lost his 
two brothers in the massacre of non-Bengalis in March 1971. Repatriated 
to Karachi from Chittagong in February 1974, he said: 

"A little more than half of the population of some 50,000 people in 
Halishahar consisted of non-Bengalis. For the past 24 years, they 

61 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



had lived in these settlements. Their relations with the Bengalis 
were cordial. All of them spoke Bengali fluently but in their homes 
they spoke Urdu. Many of the inhabitants in this locality originally 
hailed from the Indian State of Bihar. But there were also many 
West Pakistani families, including Punjabis and Pathans. The 
Bengalis called themBiharis, too 

"In the night of March 18, a rampaging mob of Awami League 
militants, rebel Bengali soldiers and thugs attacked our part of the 
colony and looted our houses and slaughtered all the male members 
of non-Bengali families. In my house, they gunned my two brothers 
and kidnapped their young wives. After the federal army took over 
Chittagong, I searched every nook and corner of Chittagong to 
locate my missing sisters-in-law but there was no trace of them. At 
least 75 per cent of the male non-Bengali population in Halishahar 
was wiped out by the rebels in March 1971 " 

Mosharaf Hussain, 35, who owned a Jute Baling Press in 
Chittagong and lived in the Agrabad locality, gave this account of the 
grisly events in March 1971: 

"I had migrated from India to East Pakistan in 1950. I had 
transferred all my assets worth a million rupees to Chittagong. I 
prospered in the Jute trade and I bought a Jute Baling Press whose 
market value was two million rupees. "On March 21, a violent mob, 
led by Awami League militants, attacked my Jute Baling Press and 
set it ablaze. They also burnt the jute stocks and my shop which 
was located in the commercial hub of Chittagong 

"For more than two years, I lived in abject poverty. With great 
difficulty, I succeeded in corning to Pakistan in December 1973 
from Chittagong. It was sheer good luck and God s mercy that my 
family and I escaped the massacre of the non-Bengalis in March 
1971 " 



Yunus Ahmed, 28, who was employed in an Insurance Firm in Chittagong, 
lost his 22-ycar-old brother in the massacre of non-Bengalis in the 
Ferozeshah Colony on March 18, 1971. He said in Karachi after his 
repatriation in February 1974: 

62 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"I had come with my parents as a child from India to Chittagong in 
1949. Chittagong was our home town; we loved it. After the death 
of my father, I brought up my two younger brothers who were 
students in 1971 

"In the night of March 18, a killer gang of Awami Leaguers and 
rebel soldiers, armed with rifles and sten guns, raided our locality 
and slaughtered non-Bengali men by the thousands. One of my two 
brothers was at home; the killers burst into our house and riddled 
him with bullets. My other brother was away at that time in another 
part of Chittagong. I was also not at home when the killers came 
and killed my brother. They burnt hundreds of houses. Our Colony 
had borne the brunt of their previous attack on March 3, but on 
March 18 the raiders came armed with automatic weapons and 
explosives and the slaughter was savage. They kidnapped hundreds 
of non-Bengali young women, especially teenage girls. Many of 
their dead bodies were found early in April in houses used for mass 
torture and as sex assault chambers". 

Twenty-five year old Rahima, the Bengali widow of Shahid Ali, who lived 
with her husband and her four children in a house in the Shershah Colony 
in Chittagong, said: 

"I am a Bengali by birth, having been born in Faridpur. My 
husband, Shahid Ali, hailed from Lucknow in India and I liked him 
and we were married. He was a gentle person who loved 
Chittagong and respected our Bengali friends 

"In a raid on our house in the Shershah Colony in the third week of 
March 1971, the killer gang murdered my husband. I begged them 
to spare his life and even fell at their feet. But they were mad thugs 
who were out for a kill. Amongst the raiders were some Hindus 
whose hatred of the non-Bengalis was intense 



"If the Government had swiftly crushed the violence and terror 
unleashed by the Awami League militants in the first week of 
March 1971, the trouble may nave been nipped in the bud. By 
giving the long rope to the rebels, the Government emboldened 

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Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



them and they got ample time to plan and execute their Operation 
"Loot, Burn and Kill" against the non-Bengalis in Chittagong 

"Amongst the thousands massacred in Chittagong in March, 1971, 
were many Bengalis who were loyal to Pakistan. Some Bengalis, 
who protected non-Bengalis, were also killed by the rebels 

"My four children are my late husband's legacy to me. I am in 
Pakistan with them because they are born Pakistanis " 

Mrs. Rahima Abbasi, 40, who worked as a teacher in the Lions' 
School in Chittagong, gave this account of the raid on her school on March 
21, 1971: 

"We lived in our own house on M. A. Jinnah Road. My husband 
was in business and I worked as a teacher in the Lions' School 
which was an English medium school. We had students from 
Bengali and non-Bengali middle class families 

"On March 21, a violent mob of Bengalis, led by Awami League 
militants, raided our school. They injured the School's Chowkidar 
(Watchman) who had closed the front gate. As a Bengali, he 
appealed to them not to cause a disturbance in the school. One of 
the attackers shot him in the leg and he collapsed. The vicious 
crowd then swarmed into our office and the classrooms. They 
molested the female teachers and students. When we realised that 
they had plans to kidnap our girls, we raised a hue and cry and our 
screams for help attracted the neighbours. About 50 of them, led by 
a prominent pro-Pakistan Bengali leader of our locality, came to 
our rescue and grappled with the raiders. In the fight that ensued, 
three of the raiders were killed and the others escaped. No one 
amongst the teachers and the students was injured. The school was 
closed for some days after this incident " 

Mrs. Abbasi, her husband and their children were repatriated to 
Karachi from Chittagong in March 1974. 

Rahim Afindi, who was employed in a shipping firm in Chittagong 
and who had a miraculous escape from death when the Bengali insurgents 

64 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



murdered non-Bengalis in the Chittagong port area, gave this account of 
his hair-raising experience in March 1971: 

"I was employed in the shipping firm of Messrs. Yaqub Ah and 
Sons in Chittagong. The owner of the firm, Mr. Yaqub Ali, was a 
God-fearing Muslim, devoted to Islam and the ideology of 
Pakistan. A Bengali, he was in the Pakistan Movement in pre- 
Independence Bengal and knew many prominent Muslim League 
Bengali leaders. He was closely related to a one-time Speaker of the 
Pakistan National Assembly, Mr. Fazlul Qader Chowdhury. He had 
many non-Bengali employees in his firm and he treated them as 
well as his Bengali employees 

"On March 20, Mr. Yaqub Ali took me to the Chittagong harbour 
where a ship whose unloading was to be done by his firm was 
docked. We went on board the ship and Mr. Yaqub Ali talked to the 
Captain. Suddenly, we heard yells for help and the echo of gunshots 
from down below. We rushed from the Captain's cabin to the deck 
and saw that killer mobs, armed with guns, were slaughtering 
people on the wharf. Mr. Yaqub Ali asked me to stay on board the 
ship with the Captain and he rushed down the gangway to the quay. 
A very brave man, he ran into the crowd of the killers and appealed 
to them in the name of God not to slaughter the innocents. Some 
one in the killer gang shouted that Yaqub Ali was pro -Pakistan and 
a Muslim Leaguer. In a matter of minutes, the killer gang killed him 
and chopped up his dead body before flinging it into the sea. 
Subsequently, I learnt that Yaqub Ali Saheb shouted "Pakistan 
Zindabad" (Long Live Pakistan) as the killer gang ordered him to 
shout "Joy Bangla" (Long Live Bangla) before they killed 
him " 

Rahim Afindi was sheltered by the Captain of the ship for some 
days. He escaped the massacre of non-Bengalis. In March 1974, he was 
repatriated to Pakistan. He is certain that more than 50,000 non-Bengalis 
perished in the March 1971 carnage in Chittagong and its neighbouring 
localities. 



Nasim Ahmed, 22, who lived with his father, a prominent Muslim 

65 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



League activist, in their own house in Pahartali area of Chittagong, gave 

this narrative of his father's murder by the rebels: 

"My father, Mr. Wasim Ahmed, was a well-known and thriving 
businessman in Chittagong. He was devoted to the ideology of 
Pakistan and was active in the local Muslim League. Bengalis and 
non-Bengalis alike respected him for his integrity and for his 
courage. He helped many charitable causes 

"On March 20, 1971, he was on his way to the main Community 
Centre of our area in connection with a meeting of prominent 
citizens which had been called to devise ways of maintaining peace 
in the town. On the way, a rampaging mob of rebels overpowered 
him and slaughtered him. Shortly afterwards, the killer mob went 
berserk and looted and burnt hundreds of non-Bengali homes." 

Nasim Ahmed and his widowed mother were sheltered by a 
Godfearing Bengali family and they survived the carnage. In September, 
1973. they were repatriated to Pakistan. Nasim Ahmed thinks that more 
than 75,000 non-Bengalis were butchered in the March- April, 1971 
carnage in Chittagong and its neighbourhood. Another 10,000 non- 
Bengalis, in his view, perished in the wake of India's seizure of East 
Pakistan on December 17, 1971. The most savage killings, he said, were 
done by the Bengali rebel soldiers who had automatic weapons and the 
local Hindus who hated the non-Bengalis. 



Jamdad Khan, 42, who worked as a Security Guard, in the Gul 
Ahmed Jute Mills in Agrabad in Chittagong, testified: 

"I had joined the Gul Ahmed Jute Mills as a Security Guard in July 
1971. Before that I lived in the N.W.F.P. In Chittagong, I lived in a 
quarter in the Nasirabad Housing area. I had heard from non- 
Bengalis about the mass slaughter which the Bengali rebels had 
conducted in March 1971 in Chittagong. One day, on my way to 
the Jute Mill, I spotted a small human skull lying outside a deserted 
house. Through a crack in a window, I looked inside. To my horror, 
the skulls and bones of many children lay in heaps inside the locked 
room. Some clothes were strewn on the floor and they looked to be 
the ones usually worn by non-Bengali children. With the help of 
some friends, I dug a grave and interred the remains of the 

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Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



innocents in it. Subsequently, I learnt that in March 1971, this 
house was used as a slaughter-house by the rebels and they had 
killed many women and children in it 

"After India's seizure of East Pakistan on December 17, 1971, the 
Mukti Bahini and Awami League storm troopers again went on the 
rampage against non-Bengalis. Amongst those killed were many 
hundreds of Punjabis and Pathans who were doing business in 
Chittagong or were employed in the administration and firms. The 
non-Bengalis were sheltered in camps put up by the Red Cross but 
it was the daily practice of the Mukti Bahini and Awami league 
militants to kidnap non-Bengalis by the scores. They were tortured 
in jails and killed. Their dead bodies were thrown into the sea. To 
win the sympathy of the Indian military officers stationed in 
Chittagong, the local Awami Leaguers dug up the dead bodies of 
hundreds of non-Bengalis from shallow mass graves and showed 
them as the skeletons of Bengalis murdered by the Pakistan Army. 
The Awami League politicians also showed these skeletons to 
foreign newsmen, especially Indian journalists. The Indian military, 
thereupon, gave a free hand to the Mukti Bahini to pick off as many 
non-Bengalis as they wished from the Red Cross camps. Living 
conditions in these camps were dreadful. We drank polluted water 
and we ate stinking bread". 



Thirty- year-old Zaibunnissa, whose husband, Mohammed Ahmed, 
was employed as a Postman in Chittagong, gave this account of his murder 
by the Bengali rebels on March 25, 1971: 

"At about 10 a.m. on March 25, a dozen armed Bengali militants 
entered our house in Sholashahar in Chittagong. In the killer gang 
were two Hindus whose names I heard from their accomplices. 
Three gunmen overpowered my husband and shot him dead. The 
other raiders looted my house with the thoroughness of trained 
burglars. I grappled with one of the killers when he trained his gun 
at one of my small children. I snatched his gun but I did not know 
how to fire it. All the thugs grabbed me and slapped and kicked me. 
They dragged the dead body of my husband to a pit and dumped it 
there. Our Bengali neighbours watched the raid on our house in 
mute silence; they said they were too scared to come to our help. 

67 



Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz 

They helped me bury the body of my departed husband 

"On March 26, an armed rebel came to my house and told me that 
they had orders to kill every male non-Bengali in the locality. He 
said that I should not shelter any non-Bengali friends otherwise I 
and my children would be done to death. We were very scared. On 
March 27, we left our home through a back door, walked three 
miles to a place where some Burmese families lived and sought 
shelter with one of them. They looked after us like angels. On April 
9, after the Pakistan Army had re-established its control over 
Chittagong and our locality, we returned to our home. After India' s 
armed grab of East Pakistan, the Mukti Bahini terrorised us, 
deprived us of our home and we lived in a Red Cross Camp. In 
January 1974, my four children and I were repatriated to 
Pakistan 



Fifty-year-old Mujeeba Khatoon, who lived in Quarter No. 78/K 
in the Sagoon Bagan locality in Chittagong, said that her eldest son died of 
a heart attack when a killer gang attacked their house and looted it on 
March 3, 1971. The raiders checked his body to ensure that he was dead. 
"They said they were sparing me because of my old age", Mujeeba 
Khatoon said. Her other son, who saw the killings of non-Bengalis in 
Santahar, lost his mental balance because of the shock of it. All her other 
relatives in East Pakistan perished in the carnage. In January 1974, she was 
repatriated to Karachi from a Red Cross Camp in Chittagong. 

Nabihun Bibi, 70, who lived in Quarter No. 100 in the Raufabad 
locality in Chittagong, gave this account of the brutal murder of her aged 
husband by the Bengali rebels in March 1971: 

"A killer gang of rebels had raided our locality a number of times 
since their first murderous assault on March 3. On March 25, they 
made a full-blast attack on our colony. A gang of armed Bengalis 
broke into our house and killed my aged, sick husband, Abdul 
Majid. I begged them to spare an old, ailing man but they said they 
had instructions to kill every male non-Bengali. One of them said: 
"We arc not killing you because one of these days you will come to 
work in our homes as a domestic servant 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"After the federal army secured Chittagong, we lived in peace for 
nine months. But after India's capture of East Pakistan in December 
1971, the Mukti Bahini and Awami League volunteers staged a 
second bloodbath of non-Bengalis. They drove me out of my house, 
saying that as a non-Bengali I had no claim to even an inch of 
Bengali soil. For some two years I lived in a Relief Camp in 
Chittagong and was repatriated to Pakistan in February 1974" 

Twenty-seven-year-old Tahmeena Khatoon, whose husband was 
employed in the Amin Jute Mills in Chittagong, lived in the Feroze-shah 
Colony. She gave this account of the murder of her husband by the Bengali 
rebels in March 1971: 

"On March 15, a group of Bengalis knocked on our door and called 
out the name of my husband, Amanatullah. He met them and they 
said that he was urgently wanted at the Jute Mill. One of the callers 
was an employee of the Mill whom he knew. I urged him not to go 
because I had heard that the Bengali rebels were using all manner 
of ruses to kidnap non-Bengalis and they were subsequently 
murdered. My husband ignored my plea and went with them. After 
an hour, one of the callers returned and told me that my husband's 
life would be spared if I paid him Rs. 500. 1 scraped up all the cash 
I had with me and gave it to him. I ran with him to see the place 
where my husband was held but the thug gave me the slip and 
vanished. When I returned home, two trucks, with armed Bengalis, 
arrived and they looted all the valuables in our house. They took 
away even the furniture and the crockery. The next day I learnt that 
the rebels had murdered my husband. I tried to go to my father's 
place but his locality was under rebel control. Two days later, I 
heard that he was also killed by the rebels during a raid on his 
locality". 



Halima Bibi, 27, saw her husband, Mohammed Wakeel, butchered 
by the Bengali rebels on March 28, 1971 in a savage attack on non-Bengali 
homes in the Raufabad locality of Chittagorg. She said: "More than a 
dozen of my relatives perished in the March 1971 massacres in East 
Pakistan". She continued: 

"On March 28, a killer mob raided our locality and ransacked the 
houses of non-Bengalis. They looted all the valuables in these 

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Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



homes and carted them away in trucks. They also looted my house 
and set it ablaze. As my husband and I ran from our burning home, 
two gunmen riddled my husband with bullets and he died on the 
spot. I begged the killers to finish me off too because I had no 
relatives left in Chittagong. "After a while we will have you as our 
domestic servant", they replied. I buried my dead husband in a 
shallow pit and covered it with mud. I sought refuge in a mosque 
for a day and then I went back to my partially burnt out house. The 
federal troops arrived in the first week of April, 1971, and offered 
to shift me to a Relief Camp. I asked them to find out whether my 
father who lived in Santahar was alive. They made prompt inquiries 
and I was informed that the Bengali rebels had murdered him 

Halima was repatriated to Pakistan from the Red Cross Camp in 
Chittagong in February 1974. 

Romaisha Khatoon, 35, whose husband, Anzarul Haq, was a 
Railway employee, lived in Quarter No. 763 in Block B in the Halishahar 
Housing Estate in Chittagong. On March 25, a killer gang kidnapped him 
from his house and murdered him in the slaughterhouse set up by the rebels 
in the Government Rest House. Romaisha, who was repatriated to Pakistan 
from Chittagong along with her three children in December 1973, sobbed 
out her woeful story in these words: 

"The Bengali rebels had made a murderous attack on our locality 
on March 3. But they did not break into our house. On March 23, a 
killer gang raided our house and trucked away all the valuables we 
had, including our furniture and crockery. They warned us not to 
leave our house because all the escape routes were blocked. We 
were defenceless. They had carried away even the kitchen knives in 
our home 



"In the night of March 25, a killer gang attacked our locality again. 
They blasted the door of my house and grabbed my husband. I 
threw myself at the feet of the raiders and begged them to spare my 
husband. They kicked me in the head. I wailed; I screamed and I 
entreated but the killers forced him into a jeep and drove away. I 
heard them say in Bengali that they were heading for the Rest 
House. I knew that my husband was being dragged to the execution 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



chamber because the Rest House had become notorious as a 
slaughter-house set up by the rebels. Hundreds of non-Bengali 
males, kidnapped from their homes in our locality, were taken to 
this human abattoir for slaughter. After the federal army captured 
Chittagong from the rebels, I approached the Pakistani military 
personnel for help in locating the dead body of my husband. They 
said that the dead bodies in the slaughter-house in the Rest House 
were mutilated beyond recognition and that there was no trace of 
my husband's body " 

Salma Khatoon, 35, whose husband worked as a tailor in the 
Raufabad locality of Chittagong, testified that a killer gang of rebels 
attacked her house at night on March 25, 1971 and slaughtered her 
husband. Ali Raza, his younger brother and her nephew. The raiders looted 
every article of value in her house and set it ablaze. She said: 

"The raiders were mad killers. They said they had orders to kill 
every male non-Bengali. We are sparing you, they said, so that in 
the near future we can employ you as a domestic servant in our 
homes. After two and a half years of miserable life, my children 
and I were repatriated to Pakistan in February 1974". 

Fatema Begum, 40, who lived with her husband, Abdur Rahman, a 
businessman, in a house in Raufabad in Chittagong, reported that a gang of 
armed Bengali rebels raided her house on March 25, 1971, and killed her 
husband. They looted her house and trucked away all the loot. Fatema said: 

"Murder and loot were the principal motives of the aimed rebels 
when they raided the homes of non-Bengails. The killers followed a 
set pattern in their "Operation Loot, Burn and Kill" in Chittagong. 
The vast majority of the adult male non-Bengalis was eliminated by 
the rebels in a month of ruthless killing " 

Fatema and her children were repatriated to Karachi from 
Chittagong in February 1974. They had spent nearly two and a quarter 
years in a Red Cross Relief Camp in Chittagong. She said: 



'Hundreds of teenage girls were kidnapped from our locality by the 

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Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Bengali rebels. We found no trace of them after the rebels retreated. 
There were reports that the killers violated their chastity, murdered 
them and threw their bodies into the Karnaphuli river". 

Sayeeda Begum, 55, whose husband, Maqbool Ahmed Khan, was 
employed in the East Pakistan Railway at Chittagong, lived in an 
apartment in "C" Building (Number 21) in the Ferozeshah Colony in 
Chittagong. After her repatriation to Pakistan in February 1974, Sayeeda 
testified: 



"The Bengali rebels made their first raid on our colony on March 3. 
They burnt and looted a number of houses owned by non-Bengalis 
and kidnapped a number of non-Bengali menfolk " 

"On March 25, a gang of armed rebels smashed the front door of 
our flat and overpowered my husband. They fastened him with 
ropes and dragged him outside the building. Our neighbours were 
helpless because their men were also being kidnapped in a similar 
manner. The Bengali rebels looted my house and carried away all 
the booty in a truck 

"On April 9, when the federal army came to our help, I scoured 
every nook and corner of Chittagong to trace out my husband but 
there was no sign of him. I learnt that the rebels had taken all their 
victims from our locality to a slaughterhouse where they were done 
to death and their dead bodies were thrown into the Karnaphuli 
river. The Mukti Bahini drove me out of my house after its 
occupation of Chittagong in December 1971. My only son and I 
lived in a camp set up by the Red Cross in Chittagong for two 
years " 

Sayeeda Khatoon, 34, whose husband, Bafati Hussain, was 
employed as a Watchman at the Chittagong Port Trust, lived in Quarter No. 
594 on Road No. 1 in Block A in the Halishahar locality in Chittagong. 
Repatriated to Karachi in January 1974, she said: 

"On March 5, a killer gang stole into our house. At gunpoint, they 
tied my father and my elder brother with ropes and carted them 

72 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



away in a truck. They looted my house and carried all the loot with 
them 



"In the afternoon, a Bengali boy, who had known our family, 
brought me the shocking news that the rebels had murdered my 
father and my brother and thrown their bodies into the river. When 
the Pakistan Army re-occupied Chittagong, I brought my aged 
mother from her gutted house to our home. My husband had 
survived the slaughter in the Port area 

"After the Indian victory in December 1971, the Mukti Bahini went 
on the rampage against non-Bengalis, looting and killing. We 
survived the carnage. In November 1972, my husband died after a 
short illness. We had no money left for medicines, and proper 
medical treatment for the non-Bengalis in the hospitals was difficult 
to get." 

Zainab Bibi, 55, who lived with her two teenage sons in Quarter 
No. 1 1 1 in Raufabad in Chittagong, thus narrated the story of the murder of 
her dear ones by the Bengali rebels in March 1971: 

"On March 3, when the first raid on the houses of non-Bengalis was 
conducted by the Bengali rebels in Chittagong, my two sons and I 
escaped into the nearby woods and we spent the night there 

"On March 25, a large killer gang again raided our Colony. They 
came so suddenly that we had no time to escape. I made my two 
sons slip under the cot which had a mattress over it The killers 
knew that I was a widow and that I had two sons. They had made 
inquiries about my household before the raid. They looted my 
house and took away even the rice in the kitchen. Just when they 
were leaving, they remembered the mattress on my cot and one of 
them rushed inside to pick it up. He spotted my two sons cowering 
in fear under the cot. He yelled and the killer gang rushed in again. 
One of them slapped and kicked me for hiding my two sons and 
said that they would be shot before me. I fell down on their feet and 
begged them to spare my beloved sons. But the killers had become 
savages. They lined up my two sons against the wall and shot them 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



at point blank range. I rushed towards them and the killers bashed 
my head with a rifle butt. I lost consciousness 

"I woke up in a hospital. The federal Army had taken me there for 
treatment. I refused to go back to my house; I was mentally upset. 
The dreadful scene of the slaughter of my two sons haunted me day 
and night. I was lodged in a Relief Camp. After the Indians and the 
Mukti Bahini occupied Chittagong in December 1971, the non- 
Bengalis were subjected to a fresh bloodbath by the vicious victors. 
I have no relatives left in the world. In February 1974, I was 
repatriated to Karachi. I no longer live in constant fear of the brutes 
who killed my loving sons but I have lost the zest for life and I 
await a date with my Maker " 

Hasina Khatoon, 25, whose husband, Mohammed Yasin, was 
employed in the Amin Jute Mills in Chittagong, lived in a rented house in 
the Sholashahar locality in Chittagong. They had escaped the March 1971 
massacre of non-Bengalis by running off into the forest in the nick of time. 
After the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini occupied Chittagong in the 
third week of December 1971, a killer gang raided their locality. They 
again tried to escape but her husband was hit in the leg by bullets. As 
Hasina leaned over to help her husband to rise and walk, her 4-month-old 
daughter slipped from her arm and hit the ground, head first. She massaged 
the child's head and heart but tile baby died on the road. While her 
husband writhed in pain, she dug a shallow grave and buried her child. 
Repatriated to Karachi from Chittagong in February, 1974, she said: 

"A God-fearing Bengali saw our plight and came to our rescue. He 
took my wounded husband to the main hospital and pleaded with 
the Bengali doctors to admit him for treatment. It seemed they were 
reluctant to do so because he was a Bihari. Medical treatment 
improved his condition. I took up employment in a home and gave 
him my earnings for the purchase of medicine. On February 6, 
1972, when I went to see him in the Hospital I was told that he was 
dead. I learnt that some Bihari patients had died in the hospital for 
want of proper attention and care." 

Hasina lived in a Red Cross Camp in Chittagong for two years and 

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Blood and Tears 

was repatriated to Pakistan in February, 1974. 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Batoolan, 40, whose husband was employed in the Amin Jute Mills 
in Chittagong and who lived in the Bibirhat locality, said: 

"On March 25, a killer gang of Bengali rebels drove us out of our 
house at gunpoint. They looted it and then set it ablaze. The killers 
said that there was no place for us in East Pakistan. When our house 
was reduced to a rubble, my husband, Mohamed Mustafa, my little 
daughter and I sought refuge in a Mosque. Another gang of killers 
raided this House of God. When they were grappling with my 
husband in order to tie him up with ropes, I tried to snatch a gun 
from one of the killers. He struck me with a bayonet and my arm 
bled profusely. The killers dragged my husband to a waiting truck 
outside the mosque and sped away to what I learnt was a human 
abattoir set up by the Bengali rebels for murdering the non-Bengali 
men. My little daughter and I lived in the Mosque for a week; we 
starved for days. We were rescued by the Pakistan Army. We were 
later on lodged in a Relief Camp " 

Batoolan and her daughter were repatriated to Karachi in February 1974. 

"March 25, 1971 was the horrible day on which I was widowed by 
the Bengali rebels", said 30-year-old Zaibunnissa who lived in the 
Ferozeshah Colony in Chittagong. Her husband, Akhtar Hussain, was 
employed as a clerk in the Ispahani tea company in Chittagong. Repatriated 
to Karachi with her three children in February 1974, Zaibunnissa said: 

"Our colony was raided intermittently by the Bengali rebels since 
March 3, 1971 but we had escaped the killers. On March 25, a large 
killer gang attacked our locality and looted hundreds of homes and 
burnt many. They looted my house and trucked away all the 
valuables which we had gathered over the years. They tied up my 
husband with ropes and took him away in a truck. I learnt that the 
Bengali rebels, in their March 25 raid, kidnapped non-Bengali men 
by the hundreds. Those who tried to escape were shot. The rebels, I 
was told, took my husband to a slaughter-house where he, along 
with the other non-Bengali captives, was butchered. After the 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Pakistani troops re-occupied Chittagong, I visited jails and the 
buildings where the rebels had set up the human abattoirs but I 
could find no trace of my husband. The rebels usually threw the 
dead bodies of their victims in the Karnaphuli river " 

"I lost consciousness as I saw, in utter helplessness, the throat of 
my husband being slit by a Bengali cutthroat on March 3, 1971", said 40- 
year old Mahila Khatoon who was repatriated from Chittagong to Karachi 
with her two children in February 1974. Mahila lived in a shack in the 
Wireless Colony in Chittagong. She reported: 

"My husband, Sheikh Amanat, was employed in the Amin Jute 
Mills in Chittagong. On March 3, 1971, a huge mob of Bengali 
rebels, yelling "Joi Bangla", invaded our predominantly non- 
Bengali locality. They looted hundreds of houses and burnt many of 
them. As the victims tried to escape from their blazing houses, the 
rebels gunned them. A killer squad stormed my house; they stole 
every article of value that we had. They overpowered my husband. 
I lunged at one of the killers who was brandishing a large knife, 
ready for the 'kill'. He struck me on the head and I fell down. The 
next moment I saw him slashing the throat of my helpless husband. 
I lost my senses and was unconscious. For three months, I had 
frequent attacks of delirium. The Pakistan Army removed me and 
my children to a camp in the Sardar Bahadur School. In February 
1974, we were repatriated to Karachi " 

"The Bengali rebels lined up all the non-Bengali men who had 
sought refuge in the main Mosque of our locality on March 24, 1971 and 
mowed them with machine gunfire. I fainted when I saw my husband, 
Nizamuddin, slump to the ground in a pool of blood", said Hamida, 30, 
who lived in the vicinity of the Ferozeshah Colony in Chittagong. Her 
husband was employed in the East Pakistan Railway at Chittagong. She 
was repatriated to Karachi in January 1974. Hamida said: 

"On March 23, 1971, a violent mob raided our locality. They looted 
and burnt hundreds of houses. My house was also looted and put to 
the torch by the rebels. My husband and I succeeded in escaping to 
a nearby Mosque. There were many other terrorised non-Bengali 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



families sheltered in the Mosque. At night, we saw the flames 
leaping from what until yesterday was a populous, smiling 
settlement 

"In the forenoon of March 24, 1971, fifty Bengali gunmen, riding 
in trucks and jeeps, stormed the Mosque with blazing guns. They 
ordered all the non-Bengali men to assemble in the compound of 
the Mosque. Those who tried to escape were immediately shot. 
After lining up all their victims against the wall of the Mosque, the 
Bengali gunmen mowed them with their machine guns. There were 
no survivors. The killers stayed in the Mosque for two hours in 
order to ensure that none of their murdered victims survived. We 
were ordered not to touch the bodies of our dear ones. I lost 
consciousness when I saw my husband falling to the ground, with 
blood bursting from his chest. After three days, we trekked back to 
our burnt houses. Later on, the federal army moved us to a Relief 
Camp " 

Mobina Khatoon, 37, lived in the Jhautalla Colony in Pahartali in 
Chittagong. Her husband, Azizur Rahman, was employed as a Fitter in a 
Government workshop. They had escaped the March 1971 massacre of 
non-Bengalis in Chittagong. But her elder brother and his wife and children 
were slaughtered in their house in Dinajpur and their bodies were burnt. 
The brothers of her husband were murdered in March 1971 in Mymensingh 
and in Kalurghat in Chittagong. She lost her husband in January 1972 
when the Mukti Bahini was in control and another bloodbath of non- 
Bengalis was being conducted. Repatriated to Karachi in January 1974, 
Mobina Khatoon said: 

"On January 8, 1972, my husband was ill. He left the house in order 
to go to the Hospital for treatment. On the way, he was waylaid by 
a Mukti Bahini gang which gunned him to death. At night, I left my 
house in search of him. Some Bengalis who had known us told me 
that they had seen a dead body lying in a ditch a furlong away. I ran 
towards it. Inside the pit lay the bullet-riddled body of my husband. 
I felt like killing myself but the thought of my children made me 
live on " 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Sanjeeda Khatoon, 35, whose husband worked in the Electric 
Supply office in Chittagong, lived in a small house in the Halishahar 
locality in Chittagong. Repatriated to Karachi in January 1974, Sanjeeda 
gave this pathetic account of the murder of her husband by the Bengali 
rebels in March 1971: 

"Panic-stricken by the gruesome slaughter conducted by the rebels 
in non-Bengali settlements in Chittagong since March 3, about 250 
non-Bengali men, women and children of our locality took refuge 
in a large walled building. My husband and I and our three children 
were in this building. Our house was looted and burnt by the rebels 
in the course of raids on our locality in the past few weeks 

"On March 27, about 500 armed rebels, some brandishing machine 
guns, stormed our building. We were defenceless; we did not have 
even a kitchen knife. Resistance was out of question. The killers, 
aiming guns at us, told the menfolk that if they wanted their women 
and children to live they should line up in the compound of the 
building. The men kissed their children and said goodbye to their 
wives, mothers and sisters. They were lined up in the compound 
and in less than ten minutes the Bengali gunmen mowed them with 
bullets 



"The killer gang then led us to a godown which looked like a 
stinking dungeon. There was filth all over the floor. We were 
herded inside it. I had lost the urge to live because of the murder of 
my husband by the rebels in the building. My children were 
starving. In this dungeon, even water was denied to us. I heard one 
of the Bengali guards say that on the morrow they would burn us to 
death. The killers had brought kerosene oil tins to burn the godown. 
At night, I slipped my little son out of a window and asked him to 
unlock the main door of the godown, which was bolted in the 
middle and not locked. The Bengali guards, it seemed, had been 
drafted by the rebels to block the advance of the Pakistani troops 
who had gone into action against the rebels. Our escape bid was 
successful and we raced towards the main Hospital which had come 
under the Army's control. Many of us were almost naked because 
our Saris were torn in the escape bid. The federal troops gave us 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



clothes to wear. Some of us were lodged in a Relief Camp. Others 
went to live with their relatives who had survived the 



massacre. 



Eye-witnesses gave heart-rending accounts of the murder of non- 
Bengali employees in the Usmania Glass Works on March 27, and in the 
Hafiz Jute Mills and the Ispahani Jute Mills in Chittagong in March and 
April 1971. In the slaughter in the Amin Jute Mills at Bibirhat, some 2000 
non-Bengalis — members of the staff and their families — were slaughtered. 
In the Usmania Glass Works, almost all the West Pakistani staff members 
were butchered. In the Hafiz Jute Mills, a killer mob looted and burnt the 
house of its non-Bengali Proprietor and killed 150 non-Bengali employees 
and their families. In the Ispahani Jute Mills, there were very few survivors 
of the slaughter of non-Bengalis. Stacks of mutilated dead bodies of the 
hapless victims, whose blood had been drained out before they were done 
to death, were found by the federal troops in the Recreation Club for Mill 
workers which the rebels used as a human abattoir. 

Many other parts of the Chittagong Division were stricken by the 
Awami League-instigated civil strife in March and April 1971. Witnesses 
said that the slaying of non-Bengalis and the wanton looting of their 
property had taken place in Nazirhat, Anwara, Dohazari, Kumira and 
Hathazari. When tension was sparked off at these places in the middle of 
March, 1971, many non-Bengali families fled to Chittagong city. In their 
absence, vandals looted their houses. A few non-Bengali families in Cox's 
Bazar were also the victims of genocidal violence. 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER FOUR 

Massacres in Chandraghona, 
Rangamati 

Wajihunnissa, 35, whose husband was employed in the Central 
Excise Department and was posted at Chandraghona, gave this account of 
the March 1971 slaughter of non-Bengalis in her township: 

"In the second week of March 1971, Awami League gangs visited 
the non-Bengalis in our locality and assured them that no harm 
would touch them if they surrendered their weapons. My husband, 
Maqsood Alam, who was an excellent marksman, complied with 
their instructions and gave up his gun 

"In the third week of March, roving bands of armed Awami 
Leaguers terrorised the non-Bengalis and extorted money from 
them. They had blocked all the escape routes. 

"On March 26, an armed group of Awami Leaguers called at our 
house and ordered my husband to go with them to his office, I 
knew that it was a ruse and that they were after the blood of my 
husband.... 



"On March 27, another killer gang raided my house. They told me 
and the three brothers of my husband that the Deputy 
Commissioner of Rangamati had instructed that we should be taken 
to his office to protect us. As we prepared to go, the killers asked 
me at gunpoint to stay back. They roped my brothers-in-law 
together and put them in a truck 

"In the afternoon, a huge mob of Bengali rebels raided our locality 
and looted the houses of non-Bengalis. Our menfolk had been 
kidnapped. A killer gang ransacked my house and looted 
everything, except the ceiling fans and wardrobes. They drove the 
non-Bengali women and children, like cattle, to a large compound 
where we were ordered to stay. For fifteen days we were starved, 
and we prayed to God for help. On April 13, our captors learnt that 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



the Pakistani troops were marching towards Chandraghona. The 
rebels ordered us to fall in line and we knew that they would open 
fire on us. Some of us tried to break loose and there was a melee. 
All of a sudden a shell fell and burst a few yards away from the 
compound where we were herded by our captors. We saw in the far 
distance a company of Pakistani soldiers, waving the Green and 
Crescent flag, racing towards us. Our cowardly captors took fright 
and scampered like mice running away from a cat. The Pakistani 
troops gave us water and food. They freed 200 non-Bengali women 
and children who were held captive in another camp in 
Chandraghona. We learnt that all the non-Bengali men who had 
been kidnapped by the rebels from Chandraghona were slaughtered 
and dumped into the Karnaphuli river 

"The federal Army accommodated us in a Relief Camp in 
Chittagong. After the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini captured 
Chittagong in the third week of March 1971, they unleashed death 
and destruction on the non-Bengalis. My little daughter caught a 
chill in the wintery cold; no hospital was willing to treat the child of 
a Bihari. She died in my arms. I was moved to a Red Cross Camp 
after some days. In February 1974, was repatriated to Karachi." 



Witnesses from Chittagong said that in April 1971, the Bengali rebels 
looted the Karnaphuli Paper and Rayon Mills and slaughtered the non- 
Bengali staff and their families. Not many escaped the massacre. Hundreds 
of teenage girls, kidnapped after their fathers or husbands had been 
murdered, were ravished by their Bengali captors in houses used for mass 
slaughter and sex assault. It is estimated that more than 5,000 non-Bengalis 
perished in the massacre in Chandraghona in March- April 1971. This is far 
in excess of the initial figure of 3,000 dead given out by the Government in 
its August 1971 White Paper on the East Pakistan crisis. Rebel soldiers of 
the East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles looted all the cash 
from the Karnaphuli Paper and Rayon Mills and spared the lives of some 
senior staff members after they paid them huge sums of money as ransom. 

RANGAMATI 

Rangamati is a picturesque town situated in the Chittagong Hill 
Tracts. Forty-five miles from Chittagong, it lies on the bank of the 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Karnaphuli River. In March- April 1971, the Awami League's rebellion 
engulfed it in the flames of conflict and the non-Bengalis were 
exterminated by the hundreds. In April 1971, all the non-Bengalis living in 
Rangamati were rounded up by armed gangs of rebels and slaughtered 
before the federal Army arrived. The Circuit House in Rangamati, which 
attracted tourists from far and wide, was used as the operational base by the 
rebels from where they directed the campaign to liquidate the non-Bengalis 
in Chandaraghona and Rangamati. 

Abid Hussain, 34, who was employed in the Karnaphuli Paper and 
Rayon Mills, lived in a small house in Rangamati because he could not get 
a staff quarter in the Mill premises. Repatriated to Karachi with his wife in 
February 1974, he testified: 

"The first major incident in the Karnaphuli Paper and Rayon Mills 
occurred on March 18 when Awami League militants incited the 
Bengali millhands to kill the non-Bengali staff and their families 
and occupy the Mill. Realising what lay in store for us, I rushed to 
my house and, along with my wife; we took shelter in the house of 

a God-fearing and trustworthy Bengali friend " 

"Roving bands of Awami Leaguers had terrorised the non-Bengalis 
in Rangamati all through March 1971 and kidnapped many of the 
non-Bengali men for slaughter. But in April 1971, the Bengali 
rebels rounded up all the non-Bengalis, herded them in school 
buildings and gunned them to death before the federal Army came", 
he said. 

"I had shifted to a friend's house in Chittagong after the federal 
Army had beaten the rebels. When I visited Rangamati again, there 
was hardly any non-Bengali left", he added. 

Some escapees from the Awami League's terror in Rangamati 
sought refuge in the shacks of Chakma tribesmen in April 1971 and they 
trekked back to Rangamati after the Pakistan Army had established control 
over it. 

Witnesses said that the rebel gangs used to dump at night truck- 
loads of corpses into the Karnaphuli river. Many of these dead bodies 
floated into the Bay of Bengal and the crew and passengers on board 
foreign ships reported sighting many bloated human corpses in the sea. 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER FIVE 

Fire and Death in Khulna 



The Awami League's rebellion triggered a rash of disturbances and 
lawlessness in Khulna, the hub of East Pakistan's jute trade and industry, 
in the first week of March 1971. 

On March 4, a riotous crowd, led by armed Awami Leaguers, 
raided the local Telephone Exchange, wrecked a part of the equipment and 
slayed a number of employees, mostly non-Bengalis. The next day, a large 
killer gang, brandishing rifles, sickles, spears and knives, looted four shops 
and burnt a hotel in the heart of the city. Another mob, armed with 
explosives, guns, spears and bamboo poles, attacked non-Bengali shops 
and homes in the neighbouring townships of Daulatpur and Khalispur and 
murdered 57 persons. Their mutilated dead bodies were found after some 
days. 

On March 6, Bengali militants took out a big procession to frighten 
the non-Bengalis in Khulna. Some of the armed processionists tried to loot 
arms and ammunition shops and in the fracas there were quite a few 
casualties. The civic administration in the town was paralysed; the police 
became ineffective and the Awami League militants whipped up mass 
hysteria against the non-Bengalis and the federal government. Federal and 
provincial officials, who did not side with the rebels, were terrorised. 

In the second week of March, the Awami League's rebellious 
movement gained momentum in Khulna and the non-Bengalis were singled 
out for terrorisation and abridgement. In the third week of the month, the 
Awami League's regime of violence and terror held Khulna and its 
neighbouring towns under its full sway. The Khulna-Jessore Road was 
blocked and barricaded by the rebels at various points. The survivors of the 
March 5 killing of the non-Bengalis in Khulna were subjected to fresh 
attacks and intimidatory pressure by the Awami League militants and the 
rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles. 

On March 23, the Awami League-led rebels in Khulna launched a 
full-blast attack on the settlements of the non-Bengalis in the town and its 
neighbourhood and butchered at least five thousand innocent people. All 
through the last week of March, until the federal army moved in, the 
Bengali rebels staged the bloodbath of non-Bengalis. They had set-up 
ghoulish slaughter-houses where non-Bengali men women, children were 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



done to death in a gruesome manner. The rebels flung many of the dead 
bodies into the rivers in Khulna and its neighbouring townships. Before 
being guillotined, the non-Bengali and some pro-federal Bengali victims 
were tortured. 

Eye-witnesses saw many dead bodies with slit throats and ripped 
stomachs floating in the rivers. The rebels looted and wrecked a number of 
jute mills and other industrial establishments in Khulna and its vicinity. 
Killer gangs tossed non-Bengali millhands into steaming boilers. In the 
non-Bengali residential areas in Khalispur and Daulatpur, killer gangs 
gunned the innocents with wanton savagery. Their houses and shanties 
were put to the torch. All through the last week of March, this dreadful 
pogrom against the non-Bengalis was conducted by the rebels of the East 
Pakistan Rifles, the police, the Ansar Volunteer Force and the armed 
militants of the Awami League with ruthless ferocity. 

The Awami League had established pars-military training camps in 
Khulna in the second week of March where the party' s volunteers trained 
with guns and ammunition for "Operation Loot, Burn and Kill". In the 
industrial and commercial parts of Khulna city, scores of West Pakistani 
businessmen and factory executives and their families were kidnapped and 
held for ransom. Some of them were slaughtered by their captors even after 
their relatives had paid the ransom money. 

Some Bengalis who sheltered their non-Bengali friends were also 
done to death by the rebel gangs. Survivors of the genocidal fury of March 
1971 report that on March 29, a day before the federal army re-established 
its control over the city, Khulna looked like a wrecked town on the morrow 
of a nuclear attack. Estimates of the death toll in Khulna and its 
neighbouring townships during the Awami League's rebellion of March 
1971 are at considerable variance. Foreign and Pakistani newsmen who 
visited Khulna in April-May 1971 were told by army officers that at least 
9,000 persons were killed by the Awami League militants and their 
supporters. But eye-witnesses interviewed for this book believe that nearly 
50,000 non-Bengalis perished in Khulna during the Ides of March 1971. 
Aside from the murder of tens of thousands of non-Bengalis resident in 
Khulna and its neighbourhood, they assert, many hundreds of non-Bengali 
families who fled from rebel terror in other towns of Khulna district were 
done to death on the access roads to the city which were under rebel 
control. 

According to witnesses from Khulna, the non-Bengali death toll in 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



the savage attack on the People's Jute Mill and the Crescent Jute Mill by a 
huge mob of armed Bengalis on March 28, 1971, exceeded 5,000, 
including women and children. In the pogrom in the Railway Colony in 
Khulna, most of its 6,000 non-Bengali residents were butchered by the 
Bengali rebels. Hundreds of non-Bengali young women were marched by 
their captors to neighbouring villages where they were assaulted and raped 
in cordoned off huts. Many were killed by their captors. Some escaped to 
Barisal and were brought by the Pakistan Army to Dacca and lodged in 
Relief Camps in Mohammedpur and Mirpur. 

The New York Times, in a despatch from its correspondent, 
Malcolm W. Browne, who toured East Pakistan in the first week of May, 
reported in its issue of May 9, 1971: 

" At Khulna, newsmen were shown facilities where frames were 

said to have been set up to hold prisoners for decapitation. 
Fragments of bloody clothing and tresses of women's hair were 
strewn about. The place was said to have been used by the Bengali 
insurgents for the execution of thousands of non-Bengali 
residents 

A more horrifying description of the slaughter of Khulna' s non-Bengalis 
appeared in the Washington Sunday Star on May 9, 1971: 

"In Khulna, newsmen on an army-conducted tour yesterday saw 
what a non-Bengali resident described as a human slaughter-house. 
Sheds were said to have been used by East Pakistan's dominant 
Bengalis in mass killings of Bihari immigrants from India, West 
Pakistanis and other non-Bengalis during March and early April at 
the height of the secessionist uprising .... 

"Reporters were shown a wooden frame with chains affixed on top 
where women and children reportedly were beheaded with 
knives 

"There was a form of a garrotte attached to a tree where the 
residents said victims were choked to death. Cords attached to one 
tree were described as hanging nooses. Bodies were said to have 
been thrown over a low wall into the river running alongside 



'Long rows of shops and homes in the non-Bengali sector of 

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Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz 

Khulna were badly burned, apparently by Bengalis " 

The evidence of eye-witnesses shows that after the federal troops 
drove out the insurgents from Khulna and its nearby townships, the rebels 
headed straight for India where the Indian authorities welcomed them as 
heroes and gave them sanctuary. Many amongst the killers in Khulna were 
Bengali Hindus who hated the non-Bengalis, especially the immigrants 
from Bihar in India. The majority of the Bengali population in Khulna was 
so terrorised by the hardcore Awami Leaguers that it dared not protest 
against the reign of terror unleashed on the non-Bengalis. 

Nisar Ahmed Khan, 37, who was the headmaster of a high school 
in the Khalispur industrial township in Khulna, had this grim recollection 
of the Awami League's terror regime in March 1971: 

"On March 23, armed bands of Awami League volunteers and 
rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles and the police desecrated the 
Pakistani flag in Khalispur and hoisted their Bangla Desh flag atop 
buildings and factories in our township. Since the middle of March, 
the Bengali rebels were on the warpath against the non-Bengalis 
and we heard rumours that elaborate preparations were being made 
for our slaughter 

"I lived in a rented house in the G-10 sector in the Satellite Town in 
Khalispur locality. My school was located in the vicinity of the 
People's Jute Mill. Close to it lived some 15,000 non-Bengalis, 
many in shanties. They were assured by the local Awami Leaguers 
early in the first week of March that they would not be disturbed or 
harmed. In fact, local Awami League leaders and some Bengali 
police officers met the representatives of the non-Bengalis in the 
main Mosque in this locality. In the presence of the non-Bengali 
Imam (Priest), they took an oath that no non-Bengali would be 
harmed. This assurance dissuaded the non-Bengalis from taking 
any self-defence measures or moving to Dacca for safety 

"In the night of March 23 and all through the next day, the Bengali 
rebels went on the rampage against the non-Bengalis in this 
locality. The rebels blocked all the access roads and sealed off the 
routes of escape for the non-Bengalis. Armed with rifles, sten guns, 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



hand grenades, knives and spears, a huge killer mob fell upon the 
hapless non-Bengali men, women and children. The rebels burned 
and blasted the entire neighbourhood; they looted the homes of 
non-Bengalis and as the victims ran out of their houses, a hail of 
gunfire mowed them down. Many women and children sought 
refuge in the main Mosque and in my school building. The killers 
murdered the Imam (Priest) who begged them in the name of Allah 
to spare the innocents. The word mercy had become alien to the 
rebels 

"Teenage girls and young women, kidnapped by the Bengali rebels, 
were lodged in the school building. At night, they were raped by 
their captors. Those who resisted were immediately shot. Some 
hapless women jumped from the roof of the sex assault chambers to 
escape their violators 

"Some old men, women and children were marched by the rebels to 
the river- side human abattoir where they were slaughtered and 
dumped into the river. The killers trucked away many dead bodies 
from the town to the river bank where they were flung into the 
water 

"Near my school was the house of a dear friend, Saghir Ahmed 
Khan. The killer gang smashed into his house and machine gunned 
every inmate. His house was looted and partly burnt 

"I did not go to my school on March 24, the day of the massacre. 
The next day, a Bengali attendant came to my house in Satellite 
Town and gave me the grisly details of the killing. Hundreds of 
dead bodies, many of young women, he said, lay in heaps in the 
school building 



On March 30, when the federal troops entered Khulna and the 
rebels retreated, I went to my school. It was a horrifying spectacle. 
Bloated, decomposed dead bodies lay in hundreds and the stench of 
rotting dead was nauseating. It took me almost a whole month to 
bury the dead, to clean up the bloodstains and to eliminate the 
stink " 

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Nisar Ahmed Khan escaped to Nepal in 1972 after the second 
massacre of the non-Bengalis by the victorious Mukti Bahini in Khulna 
late in December, 1971. In April 1973, he came to Pakistan from 
Kathmandu and settled in Karachi. 

Mahboob Alam, 29, who was a senior Accounts Clerk in the 
People's Jute Mill in Khulna, and who was repatriated to Pakistan in 
February 1974, testified: 

"I lived in a rented house in the Old Colony in Khalispur in Khulna. 
Almost half of the non-Bengali population of Khulna district was 
concentrated in Khalispur and many of them had built attractive 
houses. Not far from our Colony was a settlement of Bengali 
labourers who worked in the jute mills. The Awami Leaguers were 
inciting these Bengali workers against the non-Bengali 
populace 

"On March 23-24, 1971, about 5,000 armed Bengali rebels attacked 
the homes of the non-Bengalis and killed thousands of helpless 
non-Bengali men, women and children 

"The rebels had set up a slaughter-house in our locality where they 
tortured many affluent non-Bengalis before slaying them. Women 
from affluent homes were forced at gunpoint to disclose the place 
where they had hidden their ornaments and cash; their dear ones 
were slaughtered before their eyes " 

Mahboob Alam who went into hiding in the home of a trusted 
Bengali friend escaped the massacre. Many of his relatives were done to 
death. 



Ansar Ahmed, 30, who owned a tailoring shop in Satellite Town in 
Khalispur in Khulna, narrated this account of the March, 1971, slaughter of 
non-Bengalis: 

"On March 23, a large mob of armed Awami Leaguers and rebels 
from the East Pakistan Rifles attacked the non-Bengali houses in 
our locality and conducted a bloodbath for some 24 hours. They 
looted, burnt and shot innocent people with the fury of savages. In a 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



few hours, the entire colony was turned into an inferno of fire, 
blood and death. Many non-Bengalis were mowed down by the 
rebels' gunfire when they tried to escape the slaughter in the 
locality. The killers had blocked all the escape routes and their 
gunmen did the sniping. My wife, my children and I hid ourselves 
on the roof of our house and we escaped the killing. After the 
federal troops secured Khulna on March 30, it took many days 
before the heaps of dead bodies of non-Bengalis killed by the rebels 
could be buried." 

A. S. Saifullah, 34, who witnessed the massacre of non-Bengalis in 
the Crescent Jute Mill in Khalispur in Khulna in March 1971, said: 

"The massacre of the non-Bengali employees of the jute mill and 
their families and of other non-Bengali residents of the locality was 
conducted from March 23 to 29. In the first two days of this period, 
there was a general slaughter of the non-Bengali population by 
armed Awami Leaguers and rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles and 
the police. Later on, groups of non-Bengalis, kidnapped by the 
rebels, were tortured in slaughter houses and done to death. In the 
compound of the Crescent Jute Mill was a block of three rooms. 
The rebels had turned it into a human abattoir. Hundreds of non- 
Bengali men, women and children were herded in this slaughter- 
house for two days without water and food and then done to death 
with unimaginable savagery. After the federal troops had regained 
control over Khulna, I saw this slaughter-house. The dead had been 
taken away for burial but there was blood all over the place. In a 
vessel I saw the corneas of human beings; these were the remnants 
of those unfortunate people whose eyes had been gouged out. I 
have often wondered what sadistic pleasure the rebels derived from 
eye-gouging " 

Saifullah escaped from Khulna after the Mukti Bahini gave it a 
second bloodbath late in December 1971 and early in January 1972. 
Through a tortuous route, he came to Pakistan in 1972. 



Shahjahan Khan, 50, who was employed in the Star Jute Mill in 
Chandi Mahal in Khulna, had this pathetic recollection of the massacre of 
the non-Bengalis in March 1971: 

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"I had migrated to East Pakistan from Calcutta in 1970 and I settled 
in Khulna. I joined the Star Jute Mill when it was started and I rose 
to the position of Weaving Master in the Mill. On March 28, a large 
killer gang, armed with machine guns, rifles and spears attacked the 
non-Bengali employees of the Jute Mill and their families. The 
attackers overpowered some of the non-Bengali millhands and 
flung them alive into the steaming boilers in the Mill. Many of the 
non-Bengali workers who tried to escape were sprayed with 
machine gunfire 

"I escaped from the Mill and ran towards my home. A pursuer's 
bullet hit me in the arm but I continued sprinting towards my house. 
Just on the doorstep, a sniper's bullet hit me in the leg and I fell 
down. The killers had ransacked my house and killed my wife and 
my three children earlier in the day. I lost consciousness. After 
three days, I found myself in the Khulna hospital. The federal 
troops had entered the city and the injured persons were taken to 
hospital. The death toll of the non-Bengalis in my locality ran into 
thousands. The Bengali rebels kidnapped hundreds of non-Bengali 
young women and teenage girls and killed them by the riverside 
after ravishing them. Their usual practice was to dump the dead 
bodies into the river. I was repatriated to Pakistan in November 
1973". 

Shakoor Ahmed, 69, who lived in his son's house on Khan Jahan Ali 
Road in Khulna, recalled the murder of his only offspring in the March 
1971 massacre in these words: 

"I had lived and worked in East Pakistan long before the Partition 
of the sub-continent. I hailed from Monghyr but most of my life 
was spent in East Pakistan. My son was born in Khulna. We spoke 
Bengali very well. But the local Bengalis called us Biharis 



"Since the first week of March 1971, armed gangs of Awami 
Leaguers used to parade in our locality to intimidate the non- 
Bengalis. In the second week of the month, violence against non- 
Bengalis openly erupted. On March 23, a killer gang attacked our 
house, slaughtered my son and his wife. They spared me and his 

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two small sons. They are now my life, my hope. We were 
repatriated to Karachi in February 1974 

Shakoor Ahmed thinks that a typhoon of madness had gripped a 
large segment of the Bengali population in Khulna in March 1971. "Most 
Bengalis are a gentle people; a hardcore minority misled great numbers of 
Bengalis and incited them to commit violence on the Biharis", he said. 

Sixty-year-old Nabi Baksh, whose three sons were slaughtered by 
a killer gang in the compound of the Platinum Jubilee Jute Mills, Khulna, 
in the last week of March 1971, testified: 

"I was employed in the Jute Mill for the past ten years. My three 
grown up sons wore also employed in it. We lived in a small house 
on Khan Jahan Ali Road in Khulna 

"On March 24, a killer gang of Bengali rebels attacked the non- 
Bengalis employed in the Jute Mill. I grappled with some of the 
killers when they started shooting in the direction of my three sons. 
The killers overpowered me and gunned my sons before my 
helpless eyes. I was hit on the head and I fainted. After the killers 
had gone, a Bengali co-worker dragged me to the store room where 
my wounds were bandaged and I stayed there until the federal 
Army freed Khulna from the terror rule of the Bengali rebels". 

Nabi Baksh was repatriated to Pakistan in the autumn of 1973 and he has 
settled in Karachi. 



Twenty-eight year-old Rabia Begum, whose husband, Rustam Ali, 
was a federal government employee in Khulna, gave this account of the 
looting of her house and the killing of her husband in March 1971: 

"Since the second week of March 1971, life had become a night 
mare for the non-Bengalis. Every day we heard rumours that the 
Bengali rebels would raid our colony and kill us 

"The dreaded time arrived on March 23 when a killer gang of 
armed rebels raided our locality. My husband was away on a 
Government errand in Darsana; my aged mother-in-law and I were 

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the only two adults in my house. When I heard the echo of 
gunshots, I decided to leave the house by the backdoor and seek 
refuge in the house of a trusted Bengali woman in another locality. 
I tried to persuade my mother-in-law to go with me but she refused, 
saying that the raiders would spare her because of her old age. I 
slipped out of my house with my two children and reached my 
hideout safely. After the federal troops entered Khulna, I went back 
to my house. I was shocked; a part of it was burnt and every article 
of value was stolen. My mother-in-law was beaten and injured by 
the rebels. I took her to the hospital where she was treated for her 
wounds. The raiders were angry that there were no ornaments in the 
house; they tortured my mother-in-law to get clues to our wealth. 
We had none left 

"After the federal Army took over Khulna, I took up a job and 
earned some money to feed myself, my children and my mother-in- 
law. I had no news of my husband. Subsequently, I learnt that the 
killers slayed him in Darsana 

"My ordeals began afresh after the Mukti Bahini captured Khulna 
in the third week of December, 1971. There was again a carnage of 
non-Bengalis in the city. Luckily, we escaped it. In January 1974 
we were repatriated to Karachi from Dacca". 

Rabia' s view is that there were many God-fearing Bengalis who strongly 
condemned the killing of the non-Bengalis but they were utterly helpless. 
"The guns were with the Awami Leaguers and other rebels and not with 
these good-hearted Bengalis", she said. She had also heard of the 
slaughter-houses set up by the Bengali rebels to torture and murder their 
non-Bengali victims. 



PHOLTALA 

Firdous Alam, 65, who lived in the Liaquatabad Colony in 
Pholtala town near Khulna, had this tearful recollection of the March 1971 
killing of the non-Bengalis: 

"Pakistan's first Prime Minister, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, was the 
founder of the Liaquatabad colony in Pholtala. Four hundred 

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Muslim refugee families from Bihar and West Bengal, who had 
sought refuge in East Pakistan, were sheltered in this colony in 
1948. With the passage of years, more non-Bengali families 
converged here and its population reached 15,000 

"On March 23, a large procession of Awami Leaguers paraded our 
locality and raised slogans against Pakistan. The elders in our 
locality prevailed upon our young men not to be provoked by the 
Awami League militants and their anti- Pakistan slogans. In the 
evening, the Awami Leaguers returned with a horde of armed men, 
perhaps the rebels from the East Pakistan rifles. All of a sudden, the 
killer gang started setting the hutments of the non-Bengalis ablaze. 
The Bengali rebels spread the flames with dried coconut fronds 
which make excellent kindling. As the terrified non-Bengalis 
emerged from their burning huts, the killer gang mowed them with 
gunfire 

"Provoked by this wanton savagery, a score of our young men, who 
had guns, engaged the killer gang in combat for four hours. But 
when their ammunition was exhausted — the Bengali rebels got 
reinforcements and fresh supplies — these brave defenders of non- 
Bengali honour were done to death with indescribable savagery. All 
through the night and till the small hours of the morning, the rebels 
continued their orgies of killing, torture and loot. The killers raped 
hundreds of non-Bengali women before slaughtering them in the 
compound of a large building in the locality. The killer gang 
murdered my family; I was hit by a gunman and I feigned death 

"At least half of the non-Bengali population in Liaquatabad Colony 
in Pholtala was wiped out in 24 hours of fiendish massacre " 

Firdous Alam was repatriated to Karachi in December 1973. 



BAGERHAT 

Qazi Anwar Hussain, 35, who was a trader in the town of 
Bagerhat in the Khulna District, and who saw the killing of non-Bengalis 
and pro-Pakistan Bengalis in March 1971, said: 

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"The Awami Leaguers created tension in Bagerhat from the first 
week of March 1971. They spread canards about the killing of 
Bengalis in West Pakistan; they incited the local Bengalis to 
violence against the non-Bengalis 

"Along with the non-Bengalis, Bengali Muslim Leaguers were also 
the target of attack by the Awami Leaguers. Before the December 
1970 general elections, the Awami League did not command much 
influence in Bagerhat sub-division. But in the 1970 polls, it 
emerged victorious and built up a base of strength in Bagerhat. One 
of its pet themes was to incite the Bengalis against West 
Pakistan 

"On March 20, a riotous mob led by Awami League militants 
ransacked the house of a prominent Bengali Muslim Leaguer, 
Mohammed Qasim. Luckily, he was not at home when the raiders 
came. But they looted all the valuables in his house and burnt it to 
ashes. Subsequently, the mob went on the rampage against the non- 
Bengalis and burnt their houses and killed many. Some non- 
Bengalis were given shelter and protection by God fearing 
Bengalis. The killer gangs punished such humane Bengalis and 
killed the non-Bengalis they had sheltered. I estimate that some 500 
innocent people — many non-Bengalis and a few pro-Pakistan 
Bengalis — were done to death in Bagerhat on that dark day 

"Many of the survivors amongst the non-Bengalis went away to 
Khulna for shelter but quite a few were killed on the way by killer 
gangs which controlled the highways " 

Qazi Anwar escaped the slaughter of non-Bengalis in Bagerhat with 
the help of a devout Bengali Muslim who sheltered him and protected him 
from the killer gangs. In February 1974, he was repatriated to Karachi by 
ship from Chittagong. 



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CHAPTER SIX 

Satkhira Aflame 



About the same time as Khulna was aflame with the genocidal fury 
of the Bengali rebels, the non-Bengali population in the town of Satkhira 
also became the victim of loot, arson and murder. It is estimated that more 
than 2,000 non-Bengalis perished in the massacres in Satkhira town and 
other places in the sub-dvision between the second half of March and the 
first fortnight of April 1971. Eye-witnesses reported that as Satkhira is 
close to the Indian border, the Bengali rebels received substantial military 
assistance from the Indian Border Security Force. The Sub-Divisional 
Officer of Satkhira, who was a West Pakistani, was taken prisoner by the 
Bengali rebels and was dragged through the streets of the town. 

Thirty-two year-old Maula Bux, who worked as a Jute trader and 
lived in the Kazipara locality of Satkhira, gave this account of the 
horrifying events in what used to be his home town: 

"I had lived for more than 10 years in Satkhira town and I spoke 
Bengali so well that I was often mistaken for a genuine Bengali. As 
Satkhira town is barely a couple of miles from the Indian border, it 
had served for years as the operational base of Indian agents. When 
the Aw ami League launched its rebellion in Dacca on March 1, 
1971, its impact was immediately felt in Satkhira. The Aw ami 
Leaguers organized demonstrations and protest marches and 
imported arms and ammunition from India. Para-military Indian 
personnel infiltrated in mufti into Satkhira and guided the Awami 
Leaguers in their anti- Government operations 

"The civil administration collapsed; the Bengali rebels kidnapped a 
number of Government officials and set up their own regime of 
terror. The Police and the East Pakistan Rifles also revolted. The 
rebels had taken over control of all the access roads to Satkhira and 
blocked the exit of the terrorised non-Bengalis. By the middle of 
March, heavily armed Bengali rebel contingents were holding 
ominous displays of strength to frighten the non-Bengalis. Some 
shops and stores owned by non-Bengalis were looted and burnt. A 
number of West Pakistanis were "arrested" on the charge of 
"spying" for the federal government and were liquidated with rifle 

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shots. On March 17 and 18, the rebels went on the rampage and 
slaughtered hundreds of non-Bengalis 

"In the morning of March 18, I was striking a business deal in the 
jute godown of a leading non-Bengali jute trader, Abdul Qayuum. 
All of a sudden, a killer mob attacked the jute god own, gunned Mr. 
Qayuum and his non-Bengali staff and set the jute stock on fire. As 
huge tongues of fire leapt from the blazing jute godown, the killers 
tossed all the dead bodies into the fire, My command over the 
Bengali language enabled me to convince the killers that I was a 
genuine Bengali and they spared my life. But they belaboured me 
on the charge that I was a "West Pakistani agent" and ordered me 
"never to do business with the non-Bengalis" 

"I walked swiftly in the direction of my house and did my best to 
avoid detection by the killer gangs which were on the loose in the 
town. On the way, I saw the rebels dragging through the streets the 
West Pakistani Sub-divisional Officer of Satkhira. Blood was 
oozing from his forehead and knees and his hands were tied with a 
rope. Some Bengalis spat on him and threw stones. I also saw the 
killers pushing, at the point of a bayonet, a hapless non-Bengali 
woman with two shrieking, small children who were clinging to her 
body. As she collapsed on the ground from sheer exhaustion, one of 
her captors kicked her head with his boot while the other throttled 
the older child 

"When I reached my house, I found it ablaze. My younger brother, 
who was its only occupant at that time, had escaped the dragnet of 
the killers. I sought shelter in the house of a trusted Bengali friend. 
After the federal army re-established its control over Satkhira in 
April 1971, my brother rejoined me. I moved to Dacca, and in 
January 1974, 1 was repatriated to Karachi 

"The rebels kidnapped many non-Bengali young women from 
Satkhira. Some, who resisted the rapists, were killed; others were 
taken away to India by the retreating rebels and sold to brothels in 
West Bengal." 



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Twenty-six year-old Nawab Ali, who lived in his father's house in Bara 
Bazaar in Satkhira and was engaged in the jute trade, had this unhappy 
memory of the Ides of March 1971: 

"My father had lived for many years in Calcutta. After Partition in 
1947, we moved to Khulna where my father prospered in business. 
We spoke Bengali very well. Profits in the jute trade in Satkhira 
were far more attractive and we settled there. We bought a house 
and some other property. I assisted my father in his business 

"The massacre of non-Bengalis was started in the second week of 
March 1971 with stray incidents. Between March 17 and 20, the 
pogrom of the Bengali rebels against the non-Bengalis received 
impetus from the infiltration of trained Indian saboteurs into 
Satkhira. The rebels had machine guns, rifles, grenades and an 
endless supply of ammunition 

"On March 20, the rebels unleashed all over the town the campaign 
of terror and fire which they had initially conducted in a few 
selected localities against the non-Bengali residents. My parents 
were killed in the massacre; I went into hiding before they stormed 
my house and I escaped the noose of death. The killer gangs 
committed acts of unimaginable brutality; they tortured the non- 
Bengali men before shooting them. They chopped up the bodies of 
women and carved "Joi Bangla" on their foreheads. They 
slaughtered children by the hundreds and tossed their bodies into 
blazing houses or dumped them in a nearby river. They kidnapped 
many scores of innocent girls and subjected them to multiple rape 
in deserted school buildings which were converted into 'comfort 
lodgings' for the sex-hungry rebel soldiers. The retreating rebels 
carried away many of these captive girls to India; some who tried to 
escape were shot." 

Nawab Ali was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in January 1974. 



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CHAPTER SEVEN 

Hell in Dinajpur 

The Awami League's terror machine had swung into action in 
Dinajpur from the first week of March 1971. Bengali mass militancy, 
whipped up by the Awami League's demagogues, manifested itself in 
protest rallies, street violence and terrorisation of non-Bengalis. The 
Awami League' s storm troopers paralysed the local administration and set 
up their own regime of force and intimidation. 

The crescendo of violence gained momentum in the second week of 
the month when the Awami League militants, beefed up by the rebels from 
the East Pakistan Rifles and encouraged by their initial success in grabbing 
civil authority, unleashed death and destruction on the hapless non- 
Bengalis. 

All through the second fortnight of March and the first week of 
April 1971, the genocidal liquidation of the non-Bengali population was 
conducted with demonic fury. Estimates of the death toll of non-Bengalis 
in Dinajpur town in a month of the Awami League's hellish rule range 
from 15,000 to 30,000, while in the district of Dinajpur the non-Bengali 
death toll was about 100,000. Eye-witnesses claim that one of the main 
reasons for this disparity in figures is the fact that the bodies of thousands 
of non-Bengalis, slain by their captors in an open-air human abattoir on the 
bank of the Kanchan river, were dumped in its waters. Hundreds of corpses 
were incinerated in the houses of non-Bengalis which were put to the torch 
after their inmates had been decapitated. 

On March 22, the Awami Leaguers, brandishing sten guns and 
rifles, led a violent procession through the heart of the town, inciting the 
Bengali populace to eliminate the non-Bengalis. On March 25, a killer mob 
burnt a passenger bus, which was owned by a non-Bengali, on the outskirts 
of Dinajpur. Its driver and seven non-Bengali passengers were done to 
death. The Bengali rebels, on the same day, burnt a postal service van on 
the Dinajpur-Saidpur Road, shot its conductor and wounded its driver. 
They also ambushed a Pakistan Army jeep and wounded the five soldiers 
who were riding in it. The treatment meted out to thousands of women and 
children was fiendish and debased. More than 400 non-Bengali young 
women were kidnapped to India by the retreating rebels. 

In the last week of March 1971, the pogrom against the non- 
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Bengalis reached its peak. Violence mushroomed into the sacking and 
setting afire of all the stores, businesses and houses owned by non- 
Bengalis. Yelling, frenzied and roaming crowds — at times 10,000 
strong — held marches and rallies all over the town, swearing death and 
destruction of the non-Bengalis and the federal government. Even at night, 
the town shook all through the week with bursts of gunfire by the rebel 
soldiers and other armed Bengalis, the crashing of shop windows and 
doors, the crackling of flames which spiralled from non-Bengali houses set 
ablaze and the thunder of slogan shouting and looting mobs. The Awami 
League demagogues, with their fiery tongues, breathed hatred for the non- 
Bengalis and sanctified the looting and burning of non-Bengali shops and 
homes as acts of duty in the line of Bengali patriotism. The river-side 
slaughter-houses worked with fiendish thoroughness. Bengali officers from 
the rebel elements of the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal 
Regiment supervised the hordes of thugs and hoodlums who worked as 
executioners and vampires in these human abattoirs for the liquidation of 
the non-Bengalis. 

The abridgement of the non-Bengali population in Dinajpur by the 
Awami League militants in a month of their accursed rule was so colossal 
that when the Pakistan Army re-established its control in the town, stray 
non-Bengali survivors consisted mostly of old women and children. Heads 
of many victims were hung on tree-tops by the rebels to "teach a lesson to 
the non-Bengalis." 

Twenty-four-year-old Noor Jahan, whose husband, Abdur Rashid, 
was killed in the carnage of non-Bengalis in Dinajpur, underwent spasms 
of trepidation and sobbed frequently as she related the story of her woes: 

"We lived in the Zulum Colony near the Tomb of Saint Sherghazi 
in Dinajpur town. Since the middle of March, we were hearing 
alarming rumours that the Bengali rebels would kill the non- 
Bengalis and that the houses of non-Bengalis were being marked by 
the Awami League volunteers 



"In the night of March 25, 1971, at about 9 o'clock, a huge mob of 
armed Bengalis went on the rampage in our locality and slaughtered 
men, women and children by the hundreds. They killed my husband 
and my brother in a murderous attack on our house. To the best of 
my memory, they did not spare a single non-Bengali male adult in 

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our locality. They wiped out even male children. They lined up the 
wailing non-Bengali women and marched them at gunpoint to the 
village of Baraul, 8 miles from Dinajpur, near the Indian border. I 
was in this crowd of unfortunate, condemned women. The shame 
and torture which our satanic captors inflicted on us was so 
horrifying that I would hate to describe it 

"The most gruesome massacre in Dinajpnr was of the 250-plus 
Pathans — men, women and children — in our locality. The Awami 
League hatchetmen and the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles tied 
up every Pathan with ropes; chopped off bits of flesh from the body 
of the victim and threw dust on him. As the victim writhed in pain, 
the sadist killers would laugh over his plight and lop off another bit 
of his body. The groans and cries of these sturdy Pathans and their 
appeals to their captors for inflicting a swift death on them, instead 
of torturing them, still echo in my cars 

"Our Bengali captors dumped us in a cluster of huts in the village 
of Baraul. At night, they fell upon us like vultures. Some women 
who resisted their violaters were shot "to teach a lesson to the 
others." Their bodies were mutilated; their breasts were slashed off 
and "Joi Bangla" was carved with knives on their lifeless foreheads. 
On April 10, a unit of the Pakistan Army captured the village and 
rescued us " 

Noor Jahan was shifted to Dacca in mid- 1971 and accommodated in a 
Relief Camp there. In January 1974, she was repatriated to Karachi. 

Twenty- year-old Sakina Bibi, whose husband, Abdus Shakoor, 
was done to death by the Bengali rebels in a raid on her house in Neelmati 
in Dinajpur on March 22, 1971, gave this grisly account of her plight: 

"The non-Bengalis in our locality lived in hutments. A killer mob 
of Bengali rebels attacked our locality at night; they burnt the 
shacks and looted every article of value in our homes. In less than 
half an hour, they gunned to death all the non-Bengali male adults 
in our locality. They wounded my husband with a scythe and then 
shot him " 



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"After killing all the non-Bengali men, they lined up about four 
hundred sorrowing non-Bengali women and, at gunpoint, stripped 
off their Saris. I wanted to throttle myself when one of our 
tormentors, brandishing a scythe in my face, tore off my clothes. 
With guns ready to shoot, they forced us to parade in the nude. A 
few women, who tried to escape, were mowed down by the 
gunmen. In this march of the naked women, I spotted the wife of 
my brother. She said the killers had done him to death; they had 
also killed her little son. We walked five miles to Narkuldanga. By 
the time we reached this place, not more than 150 captive women 
were left. A few were shot; many were taken away by the other 
rebels on the way as their share of the loot. One of them was my 
sister-in-law; she was young and pretty. I never saw her again 

"Our Bengali captors detained us in six huts. For the first three 
days, we had not a morsel of food. We lived on water and wild 
fruits picked from the trees. All through the period of our captivity, 
the hapless captive women were subjected to multiple rapes. Six 
teenage girls who tried to escape were shot. On April 10, when the 
Pakistani troops routed the rebels, the retreating Bengalis tried to 
slaughter all of us but we were rescued in the nick of time " 

Sakina lived for two years in Dacca before being repatriated to Karachi in 
January 1974. 

Abdul Majid, 26, who lived in Paharpur in Dinajpur and who 
escaped the March 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis by dint of good luck, 
had this recollection of the sorrowful events in his home town: 

"On March 3, the Awami League militants went on the warpath in 
Dinajpur. They disrupted the Rail track and wrecked the train 
services. They looted the Railway godowns and burnt some trains. 
They belaboured those non-Bengalis who had refused to boycott 
work at the Railway station 



"In the first week of March, riotous mobs of Bengalis looted non- 
Bengali shops. They also wrecked the Iqbal High School where 
many non-Bengali boys studied. Some teachers, who tried to 
dissuade the Bengali miscreants from destroying the furniture of the 

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school, were manhandled. 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"In the third week of the month, a huge mob of armed Awami 
Leaguers and their supporters, many with sten guns and rifles, 
attacked the Balwadanga colony. I believe that more than 2,000 
non-Bengalis perished in the slaughter in this locality. Some of the 
non-Bengalis sought refuge in the Iqbal High School. The next day, 
the Bengali rebels ransacked the school and killed all those 
sheltered in it 



"The Bengali rebels started mass slaughter of non-Bengalis all over 
Dinajpur from March 22 and it continued without a let-up until 
April 10 when the federal army retrieved the town. Thousands of 
non-Bengalis were taken by the rebels to open-air slaughter-houses 
along the bank of the Kanchan river and done to death. Their dead 
bodies were flung into the river. Leaders of the Awami League, 
such as Abdul Bari, a member of the East Pakistan Assembly, Dr. 
Khalilur Rahman, Riyazul Islam, an advocate, and a Major Usman 
were in the forefront of those Bengali militants who planned, 
instigated and organized the killing of the non-Bengalis in 
Dinajpur. Hundreds of non-Bengali women were marched in the 
nude by their Bengali captors through the town and driven to 
nearby villages where their tormentors ravished them in huts which 
were hurriedly turned into billets for sexual assault " 

After the Pakistan Army re-established its authority over Dinajpur, Majid 
emerged from hiding and helped the federal troops in burying the non- 
Bengali dead. He said: 

"I led the federal troops to the Iqbal High School where I knew that 
the non-Bengalis had been slaughtered. Nearly 2,500 rotting dead 
bodies, with bullet marks and knife wounds, were retrieved and 
given a mass burial. The wombs of some pregnant women had been 
slit open by their tormentors. The heads of some decapitated bodies 
were missing. I spotted many dead children whose limbs had been 
splintered. I saw the slaughter-houses operated by the Bengali 
rebels on the banks of the Kanchan River; it seemed river of blood 
had flowed there. I saw the fiendish implements with which the 
slaughterers tortured their victims before the actual kill " 

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Abdul Majid was repatriated to Karachi from Dacca in November 1973. 

Qamrunnissa Begum, 40, whose husband owned the Bengal Rice 

Mills in Dinajpur, gave this account of his murder in the March 1971 

massacre of non-Bengalis: 

"In 1947, we had migrated from Calcutta to East Pakistan. We lived 
for some years in Dacca and then we shifted to Rangpur. 
Subsequently, we settled in Dinajpur where my husband bought a 
rice mill. He had about a hundred employees and the Mill yielded 
substantial profits. He had a Bengali 'sleeping' partner who had 
made no investment in the mill. When our mill yielded large 
profits, this person tried to commit frauds on the mill and my 
husband terminated his services after paying him a fat sum of 
money as compensation 

"On March 25, when killer gangs were on the loose in Dinajpur and 
the non-Bengalis were being butchered by the thousands, this 
former Bengali partner led an armed band of cutthroats and 
attacked our mill. He and his gang shot dead my husband and 
looted all the rice and every other article of value in the Mill. After 
the death of my husband, the killers looted our houses. We took 
shelter in the home of an old Bengali friend of our family " 

Qamrunnissa, her two sons and a daughter lived in poverty in Dacca for a 
year. In 1974, they were repatriated to Karachi from Chittagong. 

Twenty five-year-old Abdul Qadir, who was employed in the 
Dinajpur Rice Mill, had this nightmarish recollection of the slaughter of 69 
non-Bengali employees of the Mill and of his miraculous escape from a 
steaming boiler in March 1971: 

"The Dinajpur Rice Mill was one of the largest rice mills in the 
northern part of East Pakistan. It had 700 employees, mostly 
Bengalis. Its owner was Haji Karim, a God-fearing non-Bengali, 
who was kind and gentle and looked after the well-being of his 
employees. Although in the sixties, he was active and personally 
supervised the working of his Rice Mill. He had a Government 
contract for the milling of rice procured by it 



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"On March 25, a killer mob led by armed Awami League storm- 
troopers and rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles raided our mill, 
looted all the cash and the rice stock and slaughtered the non- 
Bengali employees and their families. The attackers overpowered 
the non-Bengalis, tied them with ropes looted from the Mill store 
and flung their screaming victims into the steaming boiler. I saw 
with my own eyes the owner of the Mill Haji Karim, being tossed 
into this blazing cauldron of death. Even some non-Bengali women, 
employed in the Mill were done to death in this fiendish manner. 

"The cord with which my hands were tied was weak and I slipped 
out of the Hall where the non-Bengalis were herded before being 
despatched to death. I hid myself in a store room where rice was 
stocked; I prayed all through the night. I emerged from hiding after 
the Pakistan Army regained control over Dinajpur. The killer gang 
liquidated the family of Haji Karim and looted his house. Except 
my aged mother, all my other relatives perished in the carnage 

"Many in the killer gang were local Hindu militants. I have no 
doubt that the infiltrators from West Bengal played a part in the 
massacre of non-Bengalis in Dinajpur. What amazed me was the 
fact that this avalanche of fire and death engulfed the non-Bengalis 
with calamitous suddenness. Before March 1971, we had never 
dreamed of such mass killing and our relations with the Bengalis 
were cordial " 



Sameeda Khatoon, 26, whose father, husband and elder brother 
were slaughtered in the massacre of non-Bengalis in March 1971 in 
Dinajpur, said: 

"We lived in the Gharipara locality of Dinajpur. My husband, 
Mohammed Nazeer, was a bus driver. My father owned a shop in 
the heart of the town. On March 23, a riotous Bengali mob created 
a disturbance in our locality and looted the houses of some non- 
Bengalis. But on March 26, the rebels became more daring, and in 
the night they launched a campaign to liquidate all the non-Bengalis 
in our locality. They looted my father's shop and brutally killed 
him and my husband who was with him at that time. They attacked 
our house and the house of my elder brother, which was close to 

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ours. I saw from the doorstep of my house that a killer mob dragged 
my brother and his two adult sons from their house and butchered 
them with scythes and knives on the roadside. My brother's wife 
fell on the feet of the killers and begged them to spare the lives of 
her husband and her two sons but they struck her with a stick and 
she collapsed. I was horror-stricken when I saw these brutes 
murdering my brother and his two sons. I started crying aloud. The 
killer mob looted my house and told me that the rebels would come 
back after a few days to slaughter me and my daughter. 

"We were told that April 10 was the deadline set by the Bengali 
rebels for the murder of the surviving women and children in our 
locality. We cried and prayed to Allah for succour. We heard the 
echo of gunfire and thought that the killer mob was coming in our 
direction. But our prayers were answered when a unit of the 
Pakistan Army entered Dinajpur and re-established its authority. 
We were saved from the butchers knives. The army moved us to 
Dacca where we lived in a Relief Camp for widowed women and 
orphaned children. After the Indian Army seized East Pakistan on 
December 17, 1971, we underwent more suffering and many 
women were kidnapped by the Mukti Bahini. In March 1974, I was 
repatriated to Karachi along with my little daughter " 



"I have not been able to comprehend the real reasons for the 
xenophobia against the non-Bengalis which gripped a segment of the 
Bengali populace in Dinajpur in March 1971", said 28-year-old Abdul 
Khaleque whose family had lived in that region long before the Partition 
of the sub-continent in 1947. 

Khaleque' s Urdu -speaking grandfather had settled in Dinajpur in 
the 1920's. His mother was a Bengali and he and the other members of his 
family spoke excellent Bengali. Yet, in the massacre of the non-Bengalis in 
March 1971 most of them were done to death. Khaleque, who lived in his 
ancestral house on Mission Road in Dinajpur, luckily escaped the killing 
by going into hiding in the house of a Bengali friend in another part of the 
town. In February 1974, Khaleque was repatriated to Pakistan. He said: 

"There were many other families, such as ours, which had settled in 
Dinajpur long before Partition. They were bilingual i.e. they spoke 
Bengali as well as Urdu. They had endeavoured for merger with the 

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local Bengali population by inter- marrying. Every member of my 
family was a born Bengali and spoke Bengali with the accent 
prevalent in Dinajpur. Yet in the madness of March 1971, all of us 
were considered Biharis although none of us had seen the face of 
Bihar after Partition. It had never occurred to me in my wildest 
fancy that any Bengali in Dinajpur would ever think of slaughtering 
any member of my family for being a non-Bengali. But after March 
21, a fiendish insanity gripped a large portion of the Bengali 
population. Instigated by the Awami Leaguers, they exterminated 
nearly 90 per cent of the non-Bengali population in the towns of 
Dinajpur district. 

"In some villages near Dinajpur, where small groups of non- 
Bengalis lived, the slaughter was so brutally complete that not a 
single non-Bengali survived. I became a nervous wreck after I saw 
the heaps of rotting dead bodies of non-Bengalis in the streets and 
houses in Dinajpur when I emerged from hiding and the federal 
troops had re-established their control. I heard about the infernal 
slaughter-houses which the killer gangs had set up on the banks of 
the Kanchan River. There the non-Bengalis were slain by the 
hundreds and their bodies were thrown in the river. I believe that at 
least 30,000 non-Bengalis were done to death in Dinajpur town in 
March and April 1971 

"An example of the trickery and fraud used by the Bengali rebels to 
liquidate the non-Bengalis was the invitation from the Deputy 
Commissioner to 25 leading non-Bengali businessmen of Dinajpur 
to attend a meeting of the local Peace Committee in the Iqbal High 
School building. When they arrived at the school building for the 
meeting, each one of them was murdered by the Bengali 
rebels " 



We were awaiting our execution in a slaughter-house on the bank 
of the river in Dinajpur when the Pakistan Army rescued us", said 55-year- 
old Hamida Khatoon. She had worked for years as a nurse in the Sadar 
Hospital in Dinajpur. Repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in February 1974, 
Hamida gave the following account of the unfortunate events of March 
1971 in her home town: 

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"We had lived for the past many years in Dinajpur and it had never 
occurred to us that life would become a nightmare for the non- 
Bengalis as it did in March 1971 during the Awami League's 
rebellion 

"On March 23, a group of Awami Leaguers ordered all the non- 
Bengali menfolk in our locality to attend a meeting of the Peace 
Committee of the area. While the non-Bengali men were gone for 
the meeting, armed gangs of Bengali rebels attacked their houses in 
the locality and looted every article of value with the thoroughness 
of seasoned thieves. At midnight, a non-Bengali neighbour, who 
had gone to the meeting, came running to us and informed us that 
all those who had gone to attend the so-called meeting had been 
butchered in the school compound by the rebels. The next day, the 
rebels rounded up all the non-Bengali women and children in our 
locality and took us to a camp on the bank of the river where we 
saw the horrifying massacre of the non-Bengali men. Their bodies 
were being flung into the river. We were told that in a couple of 
days we would also be done to death. There were very few young 
women left in our group; the killers had kidnapped the young ones 
for rape. I can never forget that hell-like, open-air slaughter-house 
run by the murderers on the river bank. On April 10, when we had 
resigned ourselves to fate and death because of the physical and 
mental torture we had undergone, a posse of the federal troops 
rescued us from the jaws of death 

"We were shifted to a camp in Saidpur. In the last week of 
December 1971, the Mukti Bahini killers were after my blood 
because I had told the Pakistan Army about the gruesome killings 
done by the rebels in March 1971. I was jailed for 18 months in 
Saidpur and tortured for weeks. In the first week of February 1974, 
I was released from prison, and shortly afterwards I was repatriated 
to Pakistan " 



Forty-year-old Ladli Masroor, whose husband, Mobeen Alam, was 
employed in the Watch and Ward Department at Dinajpur Railway Station, 
gave this narrative of the grisly events of March 1971: 

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"On March 25, at about 9 p.m., a killer gang of Bengali rebels 
raided our locality in Dinajpur. They smashed the locked door of 
our house and overpowered my husband. They tied him with ropes, 
clobbered him with an iron rod and looted my house. As my 
children shrieked in terror, I begged the killers to spare my 
husband. The attackers laughed and took possession of every article 
of value in my house. "This transistor radio is mine", said one of 
the raiders after grabbing it from the wardrobe. Another killer took 
my husband's watch. Two of them frisked me for money and 
jewellery and stole all my ornaments. Behaving like thugs and cut- 
throats, they even took away my Saris. After they had accomplished 
their errand of burglary, they dragged my husband to the street and 
belaboured him so hard that he bled. I again begged his captors to 
free him but they struck me with an iron rod and I fell down. They 
lined him up with some other non-Bengalis of our locality and 
marched their captives in the direction of the river. This was the last 
I saw of my husband. "Have faith in God and look after the kids", 
he shouted as the killers marched him away to what I later learnt 
was the slaughter-house for liquidating the non-Bengalis 

"On April 10, a large mob of armed and yelling Bengalis stormed 
our locality. They gathered all the non-Bengali women and children 
and marched them at gunpoint to the bank of the river where the 
butchering of the non-Bengalis was being done. I cowered in mortal 
terror when I saw this open-air slaughterhouse and the faces of my 
innocent children. The women cried and screamed in terror; some 
of them had spotted their men relatives being murdered by the 
Bengali executioners. Dead bodies and blood littered the bank and 
the water of the river. All of a sudden, the Bengali killers started 
running in complete disarray. A posse of six Pakistan Army 
soldiers rushed towards us like angels on a rescue mission. We 
were saved from death. The federal army took us to a Relief Camp 
in Saidpur. In February 1974, we were repatriated to Pakistan." 



"The gory scene of the river-side slaughter-house haunts me. I saw the 
wooden frames on which the non-Bengalis were beheaded with scythes and 
large knives; I saw the boiling cauldrons in which the Bengali executioners 

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dipped their captives to extract information about their money". This is 
how 30-year-old Khatun Nisa, whose husband was employed in the police 
force in Dinajpur, described the implements of torture that were innovated 
by the Bengali rebels at the river-side, open-air human abattoir in Dinajpur. 
Khatun and her children and hundreds of other hapless non-Bengali women 
and children (whose husbands and fathers had been slaughtered in March 
1971) were awaiting their turn to be butchered when the Pakistan Army 
rescued them from the Bengali hangmen. Khatoon and her three children 
were repatriated to Pakistan in February 1974. Khatun said: 

"Since March 2, 1971, the Awami League militants and their 
supporters in Dinajpur were on the warpath against the non- 
Bengalis. Some shops and houses belonging to non-Bengalis were 
looted. But from March 17, they started murdering the non-Bengali 
men and molesting their women. We became so panicky owing to 
the militancy of the Awami Leaguers that in the night of March 21, 
when it was rumoured that our locality would be raided, my 
husband, Abdul Ghaffar, my three children and I slipped out of our 
house by a back door and went into hiding in a large cluster of 
shady trees about a furlong from our dwelling. We found that a 
score of non-Bengali men, women and children were already 
ensconced in this hideout. After an hour, we heard the noise of 
gunfire from our locality, the yells of the Awami League attackers 
and the cries of the victims for mercy and help. We also saw 
tongues of fire leaping from the houses which had been set ablaze. 
The killers were tipped off about our escape and there was a burst 
of firing in our direction. 



"Some of us were injured but we kept quiet. We crawled towards 
the graveyard where the graves could afford us protection from the 
volleys of bullets fired on us. Early in the morning, we moved into 
a deserted school building and stayed in it unobtrusively for three 
days. Most of us lived on water, brought at night from a nearby 
pond, and wild fruits and roots. In the afternoon of March 29, an 
armed band of Bengali rebel raided our hideout and rounded up all 
the non-Bengali men, including my husband. Some who resisted 
were ruthlessly beaten and tied up with ropes. The women begged 
the rebels to spare the lives of their menfolk but the killer gang was 

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heartless. "We will spare you; you will make good maidservants in 
our homes", the rebels said to us. Under a blazing sun and with 
lifted guns, the killer gang marched their non-Bengali captives to 
what we later on learnt was the execution ground on the bank of a 
river two miles away. The next morning the killer gang returned 
and ordered us to accompany them post haste. 



"A shiver of fear ran down our spines when we neared the bank of 
the river and saw the human slaughter-house which the rebels had 
established for killing the helpless non-Bengalis. It was hell on 
earth. A wooden frame on which the victims were decapitated, 
hanging nooses attached to trees, metallic urns with boiling water 
for dipping victims to extract information and an assortment of 
gleaming daggers, knives, scythes and spears gave this patch of 
verdant land by the placid waters of the river a macabre setting of 
torture, fire and death. There was blood all over the place. Heaps of 
dead bodies, awaiting a watery grave, generated a nauseating 
stench. After a dozen men had been butchered before our glazed 
eyes, a Bengali soldier shouted an order: "Take these women and 
children to the far end of the bank; there is too much of stink and 
bloody muck here". The ogres, who were engaged in the butchery, 
responded with "Yes, Major" and motioned us, with their knives, to 
run down the bank of the river. We had hardly any strength left in 
us and we dragged ourselves with difficulty towards the water. We 
had become so resigned to fate and we were so terribly weak that 
we had lost the zest for life and we begged our killers to finish us 
off quickly. Escape was impossible; there were at least 500 hatchet- 
men on the spot; many were armed with guns. Suddenly, 
pandemonium broke loose and our tormentors started running for 
their lives. On the far end of a ridge, silhouetted against the twilight 
sky, were a dozen Pakistani soldiers who were racing towards us 
like angels sent for our deliverance. Their yells of "Allah is Great" 
rent the skies, and in a matter of minutes our beastly captors melted 
away in a nearby forest. The Pakistani troops took us to a Relief 
Camp; those who were injured were hospitalised and the dead were 
given a solemn burial. From the third week of December, 1971, 
after India's occupation of East Pakistan, the Mukti Bahini and its 
supporters unleashed an avalanche of suffering on us. Now that we 

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have come to Pakistan, we feel we have been given a fresh lease of 
life." 

Fifty-year-old Hasina Begum lived with her husband, Kabir 
Ahmed Khan, an affluent businessman, on the outskirts of Dinajpur town. 
She lost her husband in the March 1971 massacre but she saved the lives of 
two teenage daughters of their best friend, a lawyer. Her two sons had gone 
into hiding in a nearby forest. After the federal army re-established its 
authority over Dinajpur, Hasina encouraged her sons to join the Pakistan 
Army. In December 1971, they were taken prisoner in an encounter with 
the enemy on the border. In December 1973, Hasina was repatriated to 
Karachi from Dacca. "I am confident that Allah will bring my sons to 
Pakistan sooner than I expect", she said hopefully. Hasina testified: 

"Since the first week of March 1971, the Awami League militants 
had started terrorising the non-Bengalis. In the middle of the 
month, their animus for the non-Bengalis assumed a new dimension 
of cold-blooded violence, kidnapping and murder. We started 
experiencing the sharp edge of terror when a few non-Bengali men 
of our locality were shanghaied by killer gangs of Bengali rebels 
around March 17. I sent my two teenage sons to live in hiding with 
a trusted Bengali family in a nearby village. A lawyer friend of my 
husband, his two daughters and his brother came to stay with us. 
Their house was located in the main part of the town where 
violence against the non-Bengalis had mushroomed. We heard a 
rumour that on March 24 the Bengali rebels would attack the non- 
Bengalis in our locality. I was worried because of the reports that 
the Bengali rebels were kidnapping and molesting non-Bengali 
young women also. With the consent of my husband and his lawyer 
friend, I spread a mat on the floor of a dry, derelict water tank in the 
compound of my house, made the two girls lie on it and covered 
them with a heap of banana leaves. I instructed them to lie still until 
they heard a code word from me. The camouflage was so perfect 
that even their father could not believe that the girls lay concealed 
under the pile of leaves 



"As we had expected, in the night of March 24, a yelling mob of 
armed Bengali rebels raided our locality. They broke into our house 

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and overpowered my husband, our lawyer friend and his younger 
brother. I tried to go with my husband, but the raiders struck me 
with a stick and I writhed in pain. They rounded up some other 
non-Bengalis and drove them at gunpoint towards the river which, I 
learnt subsequently, was used as the butchery ground. I was nursing 
my swollen ankle when there was again an ominous knock on the 
front door. When I delayed opening it the raiders fired on it. I 
opened the door and four of them trooped in with menacing looks. 
"Where are the lawyer's daughters?" barked one of them. I told the 
brutes that the girls were not in my house. They ransacked the 
entire house; looted all our valuables and even took away the 
tableware in our home. But, God be thanked, they did not eye the 
leaf-covered tank where the girls lay concealed. I locked the door 
tightly; I barricaded it with an almiral and two big tables to prevent 
swift intrusion from outside. 

"At night, I crawled to the water tank and gave water and rice to the 
girls. They bore the suffering patiently and lay still under the 
camouflage for a whole week. On April 10, soldiers of the Pakistan 
Army, shouting "Allah is Great" came to my house and rescued us. 
The girls looked like ghosts as they emerged from hiding. Just then 
my two sons also joined us. The Pakistani soldiers helped us in our 
frantic search all over the town for my husband and the father and 
the uncle of the two girls. But there was no trace of them. 
Obviously they were done to death in the slaughter-house on the 
bank of the river by the Bengali rebels. We gave the Pakistani 
troops the details of the hoodlums who had looted our house; all 
these criminals had fled from Dinajpur and gone to India " 

Zaibunnissa, 30, who lost her husband, Abdul Aziz, her son and her only 
brother in the March 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis in Dinajpur, has this 
recollection of that tragedy: 



"On March 23, the Awami League militants, who were in power in 
the town, imposed a curfew in our locality and ordered all the non- 
Bengali men to attend a meeting of the so-called Peace Committee. 
A killer squad came to our house and forced my husband and my 
son to accompany the gang. We suspected that the Peace 

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Committee was a ruse which the killers used for kidnapping non- 
Bengalis but the killer gang was well-armed and we were helpless. I 
never saw my husband and my son again 

"On March 26, the killers again raided my house in search of my 
brother. They caught him while he was trying to escape into the 
woods. Before my dazed eyes, one of the killers shot him in the 
chest at point blank range. As he fell down, he asked for water. I 
ran to him with a glass of water; the killers hurled the glass from 
my hand and plugged a second bullet into the skull of my brother. 
He was dead and a torrent of blood gushed out from his lifeless 
body. Two old non-Bengali women, who lived in our 
neighbourhood, helped me in digging a grave in which I buried my 
brother 



"On March 30, the killer gang again came to my house, ransacked it 
and asked me at gunpoint where I had hidden my ornaments. When 
I told them that I had none left, they forced me to go with a group 
of non-Bengali women and children to the bank of the river. One of 
the hapless women tucked a copy of the Holy Quran in her arm; a 
gunman snatched it from her and threw it on the ground. We 
reached the execution ground and saw hundreds of other non- 
Bengalis lined up for murder. The killings were conducted till late 
at night; it was like a scene from hell. It seemed that the river ran 
red with the blood of the innocents. The Bengali rebels had 
beheaded many of their victims; we saw their severed heads 
looking up from blood-soaked sods of earth. Hundreds of dead 
bodies lay on the bank of the river, awaiting disposal in the water. 
The next day, when all was set for the execution of our group, a 
posse of soldiers of the Pakistan Army suddenly appeared on the 
skyline and our executors scattered in fear. God had heard our 
prayers; we were saved. The Pakistani soldiers lodged us in a Relief 
Camp and we were looked after very well. But after December 16, 
1971, when the Mukti Bahini ruled Dinajpur, we were again the 
victims of terror. Hundreds of widowed women, like me, walked to 
Saidpur where we were told that the Red Cross would set up a 
Relief Camp and protect us from the killer gangs. For two and a 
quarter years, we lived in abject poverty and many of the hapless 

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women died. In January 1974, 1 was repatriated to Pakistan." 

Eye-witnesses of the killings in Dinajpur town reported that non- 
Bengalis were almost wiped out in the neighbouring towns of Bochaganj, 
Pirganj, Chorkoy, Ranisankail, Fulbaria, Kaharol, Birganj, Ponchagarh and 
Chirirbandar between the second week of March and the third week of 
April 1971. As the federal Army re-established its control over these 
towns, the Bengali militant, who conducted "Operation Loot, Burn and 
Kill" against the non-Bengalis, escaped to the sanctuary of the 
neighbouring Indian State of West Bengal. There is considerable evidence 
to support the view that the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles, who 
spear-headed the pogrom against the non-Bengalis, received instructions 
and help from India. The Times of London, in its issue of April, 6, 1971, 
quoted a young British technician who had crossed the Indo-Pakistan 
frontier at Hilli: 



"He said that hundreds of non-Bengali Muslims must have died in 
the north-western town of Dinajpur alone. After the soldiers left, 
the mobs set upon the non-Bengali Muslims from Bihar. I don't 
know how many died but I could hear the screams throughout the 
night. In other parts of the region, he said. Biharis had been 
rounded up and were being held as hostages " 

Some eye-witnesses said that a few God-fearing Bengali Muslims, 
who sheltered non-Bengalis and were detected, were jailed by the rebels in 
March 1971. After India's seizure of East Pakistan in the third week of 
December 1971, thousands of Bengalis, who remained loyal to Pakistan, 
were clapped into prison and many were tortured by the Mukti Bahini and 
the police force it organized. 

Hundreds of non-Bengalis were murdered by the Mukti Bahini and 
their supporters in Dinajpur between the second fortnight of December 
1971 and the first half of 1972. The Correspondent of the largely- 
circulating West German Magazine, Stern of Hamburg, Herr Braumann, 
flew from Dacca to Dinajpur on February 29, 1972, and saw 80 to 100 
corpses of Biharis scattered in a shallow pit. Although the Bengali deputy 
commissioner of Dinajpur claimed that they were the bodies of the 
Bengalis who had been killed by the Pakistan Army, Braumann doubted 
the claim because the corpses were almost fresh. In his despatch published 

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in the Stern magazine on March 12, 1972, Braumann reported: 

"....it did not seem possible — in view of the very slight 
decomposition — that the corpses in the mass grave were of 
Bengalis; they could only be of Biharis". 

Braumann described in his despatch how the Mukti Bahini 
commander of Dinajpur, Mohammed Khurshid, procured a dozen Biharis 
from the Bihari ghetto in Saidpur for being slaughtered to mark "the 
building of a monument in Dinajpur for a Mukti Bahini hero who was shot 
by the Pakistanis". 



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CHAPTER EIGHT 

Carnage in Parbatipur 

"March 1971 was like a typhoon of fire and death for thousands of 
innocent non-Bengali men, women and children in Parbatipur," said 42- 
year-old Azizullah Ansari, a school teacher, who lost his wife and two 
children in the massacre. 

Ansari, who taught in the Model High School in Parbatipur, said 
that before the March 1971 carnage in his town, it was utterly unthinkable 
for him that the non-Bengalis would be the victims of such brutality. He 
lived in Dacca for a year after this tragedy in his life and was repatriated to 
Karachi in December 1973. He testified: 

"The Awami Leaguers had started terrorising the non-Bengalis in 
Parbatipur since the early days of March 1971. As many non- 
Bengalis were employed in the Railway establishment at 
Parbatipur, they and their families, who lived in the Railway 
Colony, were one of the main targets of harassment by the rebels. 
Non-Bengalis who lived in clusters of houses in other localities of 
the town were also terrorised by armed Bengali miscreants 

"In the last week of March 1971— I think it was the 22 nd of the 
month — armed Awami League volunteers and the rebels from the 
East Pakistan Rifles ran amok and unleashed an orgy of murder, 
arson, loot and rape on the non-Bengalis. We closed the school 
before the scheduled time and the children, mostly Bengalis, left for 
their homes. I heard from an attendant in the school that a killer 
mob had gone towards my locality and I ran in the direction of my 
house. There were a dozen non-Bengali houses in my vicinity. As I 
neared my house, I saw it aflame. Some other houses were also 
burning. Unmindful of the flames, I entered it. My world collapsed 
when I saw the burnt bodies of my wife and my two little children; 
they were lifeless. I pulled them outside, hoping to revive them. 
They were dead as scorched mutton. I cried over my loved ones all 
through the night; I was nearly insane. The fire had subsided and 
one of the two rooms was intact. I put the bodies of my wife and 
my two children under a partly burnt mattress in the room; their 
burial just then was out of the question; the killers would have got 

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me. I lived inside this grave of a house for more than a week until 
the federal troops arrived and rescued me. A part of me is still in 
Parbatipur — my wife and children who lie buried in a graveyard 
there." 



Eye-witnesses of the carnage in Parbatipur estimate that about 3,000 non- 
Bengalis lost their lives in March- April, 1971. 

Forty-six-year old Abdur Rashid, a Railway employee at 
Parbatipur who lived in Railway Quarter No. 153 (N), had a vivid but 
benumbing recollection of the slaughter of non-Bengalis in trains in March 
1971: 

"On March 12, the train from Ishurdi arrived ten hours late at 
Parbatipur. The reason was that a band of armed Awami League 
volunteers and other miscreants had stopped it at a wayside station 
and slaughtered many of the non-Bengali passengers. I was at the 
Railway station when the ill-fated train steamed in with 170 dead 
bodies of non-Bengali men, women and children. Most of the 
bodies were horribly mutilated. Also on the train were some 75 
wounded non-Bengalis; many of them were in a critical condition. 
They were removed to the local hospital; only a few survived. 
Amongst the dead bodies on the train were those of suckling 
children who had been stabbed brutally along with their mothers. It 
was a horrifying scene and the memory of it gives me a shiver even 
now. After this episode, it became terribly dangerous for non- 
Bengalis to travel in trains. Similar incidents were reported from 
quite a few other places..." 

Abdur Rashid and his wife and children escaped the massacre in 
Parbatipur. They suffered excruciating hardships after India's conquest of 
East Pakistan. They came to Karachi via Nepal in April 1973. 

Abbas Ali, 45, who worked as a school teacher in Parbatipur and 
lived in a house on New Road, testified: 

"In the second week of March, 1971, the Awami League militants 
began terrorising the non-Bengalis. On March 19, a killer gang 
attacked a large number of non-Bengali houses in a locality close to 
where I lived. They had sten guns and rifles. They looted the non- 
Bengali houses and burnt some of them. They killed a few non- 
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Bengalis and kidnapped a number of teenage girls. I am convinced 
that most of the killers who raided our locality were Bengali Hindus 
and some of them spoke Bengali with an accent which resembled 
that of the West Bengalis in India. The Bengali rebels conducted 
the liquidation of the majority of the non-Bengali population in 
Parbatipur in stages. It reached its peak in the first week of April 
when wholesale slaughter of the non-Bengalis became the order of 
the day. I escaped the massacre with the help of a Bengali family 
which sheltered me". 

Abbas Ali was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in February 1974. 
He thinks that the Awami League militants had drugged a large segment of 
the Bengali population in Parbatipur with lies against Pakistan, the people 
of West Pakistan and the federal government. "What amazed me was the 
fact", he added, "that the killer gangs even desecrated mosques. This was 
extraordinary and incredible because most of the Bengalis I had known 
were religious and God-fearing people". 

Another survivor of the March 1971 butchery in Parbatipur is 
Maimunnissa, 40, who said: 

"My husband, Shajiuddin, had retired from Railway service. He and 
I and our grown up son lived in our own house in a crowded 
locality in Parbatipur. In the last week of March 1971, a large gang 
of armed Bengali militants raided our house and looted it. My 
husband and my son were luckily out of town. The attackers asked 
me to leave the house and they burnt it. Utterly helpless, I watched 
my house burn. A neighbour sheltered me. After the federal army 
re-established its control over Parbatipur, my husband and my son 
returned to our burnt home. In the middle of April, we rebuilt our 
house and we again lived in it. My son, Mohammed Ali, joined the 
Pakistan Army and he was posted in a border area. We were very 
proud of him 



"On December 17, 1971, after the surrender of the Pakistani troops 
to India in Dacca, armed gangs of Bengali killers were again on the 
rampage in Parbatipur. We decided to escape to Saidpur where we 
had some relatives. My husband put me in a train bound for Saidpur 
in the evening of December 17. He said he would come the next 
day. A former Railway colleague of his, a Bengali, had promised to 

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shelter him for the night in his house. The next day, I learnt from an 
old friend of his at Saidpur Railway station that a killer mob had 
caught my husband in the vicinity of the Parbatipur Railway Station 
and hacked him to death. I lived in Saidpur in abject poverty and 
suffering for two years. I wrote to the Red Cross about my son in 
the Army. To this day, I have no news of him. I was repatriated to 
Karachi in February 1974". 

Fifty-year-old Sitara Bano, whose husband. Abdul Qadir, owned a 

provision store in Parbatipur, testified: 

"In the March 1971 massacre in Parbatipur, my husband, my son, 
my teenage daughter and I escaped from the town just before a raid 
on our locality. My husband's shop was looted; our house was 
burnt. We returned to the town after the federal army regained 
control over it. We rebuilt our shop and our house; my son got a 
clerical job in a firm. But on December 17, 1971 when the 
surrender of the Pakistan Army in Dacca to the Indian Army was 
announced, the Mukti Bahini supporters and other Awami Leaguers 
began the slaughter of the non-Bengalis and pro -Pakistan Bengalis. 
In the evening, I learnt that my husband and my son were butchered 
by a killer mob. My daughter and I left that very evening for 
Saidpur. We took up employment in a Bengali home. But we lived 
haunted lives because almost every week there were rumours that 
the Mukti Bahini would kill all the surviving non-Bengali women 
and children. My daughter was married in 1972 and is some where 
in East Pakistan. I was repatriated to Karachi from Saidpur via 
Dacca in January 1974 " 

According to witnesses, the Awami League militants and their 
armed supporters used grenades, light mortars, machine guns and rifles in 
their attacks on the non-Bengalis in Parbatipur. Fiendishly ruthless were 
the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles. Their goal was to wipe out the 
entire community of 40,000 non-Bengalis who lived in Parbatipur. But the 
non-Bengalis organized defence squads and held the rebel mobs — at times 
50,000 strong — at bay for a whole week before the Pakistan Army arrived 
and the rebels took to their heels. However, non-Bengali groups, which 
lived in predominantly Bengali localities, were wiped out by the rebels. 



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CHAPTER NINE 

Slaying in Thakurgaon, Hilli 

The Awami League's rebellion cast its dark and ominous shadow 
on the lives of the non-Bengali populace in Thakurgaon, a town in the 
Dinajpur district, in the middle of March 1971. Before the outburst of 
genocidal frenzy against the non-Bengalis in the last week of the month, 
the belabouring of non-Bengali young men by groups of Bengalis on the 
streets and in alleys had become a frequent occurrence. The police had 
swung to the side of the Awami League rebels. 

In the last week of March and the first fortnight of April 1971, 
armed Bengali rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles joined the Awami 
Leaguers and unleashed terror and death on the non-Bengalis. About 3,000 
innocents were killed in this barbaric slaughter. More than two -third of the 
non-Bengali population in Thakurgaon was wiped out; their houses were 
looted and many were burnt. Dead bodies by the hundreds were 
deliberately incinerated in blazing houses by the killers. Non-Bengali 
teenage girls were kidnapped, ravished and tortured in sex assault 
chambers; most of them were murdered by the rebels before they quit the 
town. Some pregnant women were bayoneted; their still born babies were 
bludgeoned. The dead bodies of some prominent non-Bengalis were 
dragged through the streets and displayed in public from flagpoles. The 
Army regained control over Thakurgaon on April 15, 1971. 

Mohammad Sohail Tanvir, 21, an articulate student who lived 
with his father in their own house in Rahmatganj in Thakurgaon town, 
described the murder of his father by the Bengali rebels in these words: 

"My father was a prominent Muslim Leaguer in Thakurgaon. He 
had served as a Basic Democrat for many years and was respected 
by the Bengali and non-Bengali residents alike. We had lived in 
Thakurgaon for more than 18 years and we spoke Bengali very 
well. My father had done well in business and bought some 

property. He helped many charitable institutions in the town 

"In the last week of March 1971, a pall of death and destruction 
enveloped the non-Bengalis in Thakurgaon and several thousands 
of them lost their lives. My father had gone to the main Mosque in 
our locality to offer his evening prayers. With him were two non- 
Bengali and a Bengali friend. As they stepped out of the Mosque, a 

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killer gang of Bengali rebels brutally killed him and his three 
friends. They threw the dead bodies inside the Mosque and wiped 
out other non-Bengalis in the neighbourhood. I and some members 
of my family escaped the carnage with the help of a God-fearing 
Bengali friend of my father. After India' s conquest of East Pakistan 
in December 1971, we escaped to Nepal. Early in 1974, we were 
repatriated from Nepal to Karachi." 

Sohail' s slain father, Mr. Tanvir Ahmed, as a member of the local 
Council in Rahmatganj locality, had devotedly worked for the social uplift 
of the Bengalis as well as the non-Bengalis. "My father advocated 
fraternisation between Bengalis and non-Bengalis", said Sohail. 

Sohail recalled that it took the federal troops some days before they 
could retrieve all the dead bodies of non-Bengalis and arrange their proper 
burial. Heaps of human skulls and bones were found in the gutted houses 
of non-Bengalis. 

"The Awami League killers in Thakurgaon had instructions to kill 
all the non-Bengali male adults", said Afzal Siddiqi, 50, who lost his two 
sons and a daughter in the carnage in Thakurgaon. He had migrated to East 
Pakistan from Calcutta in 1947 and settled in Thakurgaon in the mid 
1960's. Repatriated from Dacca in January 1974, he reported that he 
escaped the massacre of non-Bengalis in the last week of March 1971 by 
hiding in a dry, derelict water tank, not far from his house in Rahmatganj. 
He said: 

"I worked as a commission agent for the sale of household wares. 

My three children were born in East Pakistan My Bengali wife had 

died some years ago. In spite of our close links with East Pakistan, 

the Awami Leaguers called us Biharis 



"Since early March 1971, non-Bengalis were harassed and 
intimidated in Thakurgaon by the Awami League militants. But in 
the last week of the month, the killers went on the rampage and 
wiped out most of the non-Bengali population in Thakurgaon. I was 
away from my house when an assassination squad raided my house, 
looted it, murdered my two sons and kidnapped my teenage 
daughter. When I returned to my house I saw it aflame. The bodies 
of my sons lay on the doorstep. I knew that the killer gang was at 
work. Fearing that they would return for me, I went into hiding in a 

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dry water tank which had a large hole in it. I slipped into it and 
covered it with leaves. It served as my hideout for a fortnight before 
the Army crushed the rebels " 

Witnesses from Thakurgaon estimated that out of the 9,000 non-Bengalis 
who lived in this town, barely 150 survived the March- April 1971 
massacre. A non-Bengali army major held nearly 1,000 Bengali rebels at 
bay for more than 72 hours. When his ammunition was exhausted, he 
fought the raiders with a dagger and died a hero's death. The killer mob 
slayed his wife and his children and paraded their dead bodies as trophies 
of victory. The attacking mob was led by the local leaders of the Awami 
League, the sons of the head of the local administration and half a dozen 
police officers. 



HILLI 

Amongst the other towns of Dinajpur district where non-Bengalis 
were liquidated en masse by the Bengali rebels between the second 
fortnight of March 1971 and the third week of April were Hilli, Phulbari, 
Jamalganj, Ponchagarh and Chaur Kai. Estimates of the non-Bengali death 
toll in these four towns ranged from 3,000 to 4,000. The Times of London, 
in its issue of April 6, 1971, reported: 

"Thousands of helpless Muslim refugees who had settled in Bengal 
at the time of partition arc reported to have been massacred by 

angry Bengalis during the past week The facts about the 

massacres were confirmed by Bihari Muslim refugees who crossed 
the border into India this week and by a young British technician 

who crossed the Indo-Pakistan frontier at Hilli today He said 

that hundreds of non-Bengali Muslims have died in the north- 
western town of Dinajpur alone". 

Most of the killing of the non-Bengalis, it was gathered from eyewitnesses, 
was conducted by the rebels of the East Bengal Regiment, the East 
Pakistan Rifles and armed volunteers of the Awami League. The pattern 
and mode of extermination of the non-Bengalis here was similar to 
"Operation loot, kill and burn" staged by the Bengali rebels in Dinajpur 
and Parbatipur. The rebels, as they retreated to the sanctuary of the Indian 

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border in the face of the advancing Pakistani Army, carried away with 
them a number of teenage non-Bengali girls whom they had kidnapped 
from Dinajpur and other places in the district. The border town of Hilli 
remained for many days the principal escape chute of the Bengali rebels 
into India. Some of these unfortunate captive girls — amongst them were a 
few from Punjabi and Pathan families — made a brave and desperate bid to 
escape the clutches of their fleeing captors but they were mowed down 
with machine gunfire by the rebels in Hilli. The rebels, while they held 
Hilli, were aided by the Indian Border Security Force and received arms 
and ammunition from their Indian benefactors. In Phulbari, Ponchagarh, 
Jamalganj and Chaur Kai, the liquidation of non-Bengali families was 
wholesale and ruthless. Some non-Bengalis of Bihar origin, it is reported, 
escaped the rebels death noose and succeeded in crossing the border into 
India. The Indian police and military forces caught them and quite a few 
are believed to be languishing in jails in India. 

Witnesses reported that not more than five per cent of the 5,000 
non-Bengalis who lived in the town of Ponchagarh survived the March- 
April 1971 massacre. Awami league cadres, rebels from the East Pakistan 
Rifles and infiltrators from India waged the massacre of the non-Bengalis 
in Ponchagarh. 

The President of the East Pakistan Refugees Association, Diwan 
Wirasat Hussain, in a memorandum submitted to the British Parliamentary 
Delegation in Dacca on June 20, 1971, estimated that out of the more than 
50,000 Muslim refugees from India who had settled at the time of the 1947 
Partition in Birganj, Manickpara, Shetabganj, Sahebganj, Deviganj and 
Sail Danga in Dinajpur district, barely 150 survived the March- April 1971 
massacre of non-Bengalis. According to his figures, more than 100,000 
non-Bengalis were killed in Dinajpur district. 



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CHAPTER TEN 

Slaughter in Laksham, Rajbari, 
Goalundo and Faridpur 

"I am the lone survivor of a family of nine; all my dear ones were 
butchered in Laksham in March 1971 by the Bengali rebels", said 59- 
yearold Masoom Ali, who was repatriated to Karachi from Dacca in 
February 1974. 

Masoom Ali's 26-year-old son was employed as a ticket checker in 
the East Pakistan Railway at Laksham. He was killed in the carnage. 
Masoom Ali had this painful memory of the murder of his family: 

"Most of the non-Bengali residents in Laksham were Railway 
employees and their families. Many of them had come from Bihar 
and West Bengal in India by opting for service in East Pakistan at 
the time of the 1947 partition of the sub-continent " 

"The non-Bengali element in Laksham' s population did not exceed 
1,000. Amongst them were also some families of West Pakistan 
origin. The Bengalis referred to all of us by the generic name of 
Bihari. Since the first week of March 1971, because of the Awami 
League's uprising, acute tension existed in Laksham and the non- 
Bengalis were apprehensive. The police force was immobilised as 
far as the safety of the non-Bengalis was concerned; no policeman 
was willing to rescue any non-Bengali from the thugs 

"In the night of March 19, 1971, about 500 Bengali rebels, many 
armed with guns, raided the Railway quarters wherein lived the 
non-Bengali employees and their families. The raid was conducted 
with such suddenness and ferocity that we had no time even to 
think of escape. A killer gang broke the door of our house and 
opened fire on all of us. In a matter of minutes our house was 
turned into a slaughter-house; they killed my son, his wife and their 
four small children and the teenage sister and brother of my 
daughter-in-law. One of the killers struck me on the head and I was 
unconscious for two days. The federal troops, who took over 

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control of Laksham on April 16, 1971, arranged the burial of my 
dear ones. For months I was mentally disturbed; I had dreadful 
nightmares. I think that at least 800 non-Bengalis perished in the 
March 1971 massacre. I still remember those lurid bloodstains on 
the walls and floor of Railway Quarter No. 93/H in Laksham where 
my kith and kin were done to death before my stunned, helpless 
eyes. I wish I hadn't survived". 

RAJBARI 

"These broken glass bangles arc my most cherished possessions; 
they are the only mementoes I have of my two pretty daughters who were 
kidnapped by the Bengali rebels from our house in Rajbari in the March 
1971 rebellion", said sobbing Ilafiza Begum, 46, in Karachi after her 
repatriation from Dacca in January 1974. 

"The butchers slaughtered my 55-year-old husband before my eyes 
and dragged my brave, shrieking daughters at gunpoint to shame and 
death", Hafiza tearfully added. 

Hafiza broke down a number of times as she narrated the harrowing 
details of the gruesome tragedy in her life. She said: 

"Rajbari had never experienced any tension between the Bengalis 
and the non-Bengalis before the March 1971 uprising of the Awami 
League. We lived in the Ganeshpur locality in a cluster of a dozen 
non-Bengali houses. Since early March, alarming rumours were 
afloat but our Bengali friends told us that there would be no 
violence in Rajbari against the non-Bengalis 



"In the night of March 19, 1971, I was sitting in the house of a 
neighbour when our locality was raided by a large gang of Bengali 
rebels. Yells of "Joi Bangla" and the screams of the victims rent the 
skies. I rushed towards my house. On the way, I saw the killer 
gangs smashing the locked doors of the houses of non-Bengalis and 
attacking the inmates with daggers, staves, iron bars and scythes. 
As I entered my house, I saw the butchers attacking my husband 
who was resisting them. I heard the cries of my two unmarried 

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daughters who were trying to beat back the attackers with frying 
pans and small sticks. I joined the fray in support of my family. 
One of the butchers struck me on the head and I collapsed on the 
floor. The next day, when I regained consciousness, my husband 
lay dead by my side. There were stab wounds all over his dead 
body. I had excruciating pain in the neck and the left side of the 
skull. There was no trace of my two daughters; I crawled into the 
room where my girls lived, I found these broken bangles; their 
abandoned Saris had bloodstains. Like a mad woman, I limped out 
of the house and shouted for them. I found no survivors in the 
houses of the non-Bengalis. A frightened Bengali woman who lived 
in my neighbourhood helped me hobble back to my house and 
advised me not to stir out otherwise the killers would get me. I 
placed my husband's blood-soaked body on a cot inside a room 
because it was impossible to bury him just then 

"After the Pakistan Army liberated Rajbari in the third week of 
April 1971, my husband was laid to eternal rest in a local graveyard 
along with the other slain non-Bengalis. For days, I roamed all over 
Rajbari town in search of my two kidnapped daughters but I could 
not find them. The killers, it seemed, had kidnapped scores of non- 
Bengali young women, ravished them and killed most of them just 
before the federal troops regained control over Rajbari " 

Hafiza was sent to Dacca and lodged in a Relief Camp for destitute 
women and children. In January 1974, she was repatriated to Karachi. 



GOALUNDO, FARIDPUR 

Two of the few survivors of the March 1971 killing of non- 
Bengalis in Rajbari were Zarina Khatoon, 35, and her husband, 
Tamizuddin, who was employed in the Power House in Rajbari. They 
lived in peace until December 17, 1971, when India accomplished the 
armed grab of East Pakistan and the Mukti Bahini went on the rampage 
against the non-Bengalis. Zarina and her husband, along with their eight 
month-old son, fled from Rajbari to Goalundo where, it was rumoured, the 
Red Cross would protect the non-Bengalis and accommodate them in relief 
camps. At Goalundo, a killer gang gunned to death Zarina' s husband in the 

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market place before her stunned eyes. The Mukti Bahini gunmen tossed 
Zarina and her suckling child into a jail in Faridpur town where hundreds 
of non-Bengali women and children were held captive. Zarina said: 

"Life in this dungeon of a jail in Faridpur was worse than death; 
many scores of women died of hunger and disease. We ate barely a 
meal a day; the rice was full of stones. Any one who protested 
against the abominable conditions in the prison was given a beating 
by the prison guards. After six months, I was set free along with 
some other non-Bengali women. All of us looked like skeletons. I 
got a job as a maid-servant in the house of a Bengali businessman 
who had fattened on the wealth of a West Pakistani family which 
was liquidated by the Mukti Bahini after it captured Faridpur. He 
paid me no salary because, he said, he was protecting me from the 
Mukti Bahini 

"When the Red Cross invited applications from non-Bengalis 
wishing to go to Pakistan, I immediately applied for repatriation. In 
February 1974, the United Nations repatriated me to Karachi from 
Dacca by air " 

Six months of incarceration in Faridpur jail and the horrifying 
memory of the 1971 massacre of her husband and many of her relatives in 
Rajbari, Faridpur and Goalundo have made Zarina a nervous wreck. "I am 
continuing to live only for the sake of my little child", said Zarina, with 
tears brimming in her eyes. "I can never forget the cold-blooded shooting 
of my husband in the market-place in Goalundo," she added. In 1969, 
Zarina' s husband had worked for six months in the Power House in 
Faridpur. In 1972, during her captivity in prison and, later on, when she 
worked with a Bengali family as a maidservant, Zarina found no trace of 
the dozens of non-Bengalis she had known in Faridpur in 1969. She was 
told that most of them had been killed. 



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CHAPTER ELEVEN 

Brutality in Kushtia 

Awami League militants and rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles 
unleashed their genocidal fury on the non-Bengali population in the town 
of Kushtia in the last week of March 1971 and it continued without a let-up 
right up to April 16 when the Pakistan Army liberated it. It is estimated 
that more than 2,000 non-Bengalis perished in the massacre in Kushtia 
town. Amongst the other towns in Kushtia district, where non-Bengalis 
were liquidated en masse, were Chuadanga, Meherpur and Zafarkandi. The 
death toll of non-Bengalis at these places was well over 2,500. 

Dulari Begum, 35, whose husband, Mohammed Shafee, was a 
Railway employee and who lived in Quarter No. 13 in the Harding Bridge 
Colony in Kushtia, punctuated her pathetic story with sobs and tears. She 
said: 

"On March 23, the Bengali rebels ordered all the non-Bengalis in 
our residential colony to congregate in the building of a school for 
safety. As they were the rulers of the town, we had no choice but to 
obey their order. Once we were inside the school building, the 
rebels cordoned it off. In the evening, a killer gang armed with 
guns, daggers, sickles and spears attacked all the non-Bengali men 
in this school-turned-abattoir. One of the killers stabbed my 
husband in the chest and he died on the spot. They piled up the 
dead bodies in trucks and dumped them in the river Ganges, if there 
was some life left in one of these bodies, he had no chance of 
survival in the watery grave. The executions continued all through 
the night and the killers took delight in torturing their victims 

"The next morning, the killer gang sprayed petrol on the doors and 
windows of the school building and set it ablaze. Hundreds of 
wailing widows and I broke through the locked gate of the building, 
rushed towards our houses and some of us were wounded on the 
way by the rebels' firing. I locked myself inside my house; I found 
my eight year old son cowering under a table. My house was looted 
by the vandals. After a few days, a band of Bengali rebels again 
raided my house and tried to kidnap my son. But, miraculously, a 
posse of federal troops reached our colony just in time and the 

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rebels bolted. The Pakistan Army moved me and my son to a camp 
in Ishurdi where widowed women and orphaned children were 
accommodated. Except for my son, all my relatives had perished in 
this cyclone of murder. My son and I underwent fresh suffering 
after India's conquest of East Pakistan in December 1971. We were 
repatriated to Karachi in January 1974". 

Raj Bibi, 30, whose husband, Noor Khan, was a car driver in the 
Mohni Mill in Kushtia, gave this sad account of his slaying by the Bengali 
rebels early in April 1971: 

"On March 23, 1971, the Bengali rebels, who carried rifles and 
machine guns, raided non-Bengali houses in the Arwapara locality 
near the Mohni Mill in Kushtia. We lived in a rented house in this 
locality. The raiders ordered the non-Bengalis to surrender their 
firearms which many of them did. Some non-Bengalis, we learnt, 
were accused of storing firearms and they were clapped in a jail. 
Many reports of the belabouring of non-Bengalis on the roads were 
received by us. 

"On March 30, 1971, a band of Bengali rebels broke into our house. 
My husband had slipped out of the backdoor into the paddy fields, 
but my brother, who was well-built, fought the six attackers with 
amazing courage. My aged mother, who ran to the resale of my 
bleeding brother, was struck on the head by a rebel with his stave. 
She fell down and fainted. Blood gushed from her skull. In a burst 
of wailing, I ran to the side of my mother. In the mean time, my 
brother injured some of the attackers and escaped in the fields. For 
four days, my mother and I lived in fear in our looted house. On 
April 4, a killer gang raided our area and ordered sixty non- 
Bengalis to go with them to do forced labour. When they refused 
and resisted their tormentors, a dozen armed rebel soldiers 
liquidated them with machine guns. My husband and my brother 
returned to our house within hours of the arrival of the Pakistan 
Army on April 16. My brother's wounds festered and despite 
medical treatment in hospital he died after a few days " 



Raj Bibi's mother was killed in the Indian bombing of Kushtia in the 
second week of December 1971. The Mukti Bahini jailed her husband 

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early in 1972 along with many other Biharis and they were liquidated by 
their Bengali captors. In February 1974, Raj Bibi was repatriated, along 
with her three-year-old daughter, to Karachi. 

Rasoolan, 40, whose husband, Mohammed Shakoor, was jailed and 
killed by the rebels early in April 1971, said: 

"In the last week of March 1971, armed bands of Awami Leaguers 
and rebel Bengali soldiers raided non-Bengali houses in our locality 
and drove away hundreds of non-Bengali men to the Kushtia jail. In 
a raid on my house, they grabbed my husband, who was employed 
in the Telegraph Department, and took him away. One of the 
raiders said he would be lodged in the jail. My aged mother, my 
two children and I begged the raiders to spare my husband's life but 
they were brutes 

"We locked the door of our house, shuttered the windows and 
prayed to God. We had very little grain left. The grain shops had 
stopped selling food grains to the non-Bengalis. 'Don't sell food to 
the Biharis' read signboards in Bengali owned shops. My mother 
and I lived on water for three days; my children — two small sons 
and a daughter — ate uncooked rice and stale vegetables. Our effort 
was to give the impression that no one lived in our house. We had 
also explored an escape route for an emergency 

"Early in April, a killer gang banged on our door. We slipped out of 
the backdoor and headed for the fields. In a barn, shielded by a 
large mound of earth, we spent many days of fear and terror. The 
crackle of gunfire echoed all the day long; the killers were busy 
killing. At night, I used to crawl to a pond to get water for my 
thirsty children and my mother. It was polluted but it slaked our 
parched throats. When the Pakistan Army regained control over 
Kushtia in mid- April and we heard yells of "Pakistan Zindabad" 
(Long Live Pakistan), instead of the shouts of "Joi Bangla", we 
moved out of our hideout. The federal troops were kind to us and 
did their best to locate my missing husband. They said the rebels 
had killed all the non-Bengalis they had put into the jail". 

Twenty-two-year-old Saida Khatoon, who lived with her husband, 

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Zafar Alam Malik, in the Thanapara locality of Kushtia and escaped the 
massacre of non-Bengalis by seeking refuge in the house of a Bengali 
family, had this recollection of the gruesome happenings in March 1971: 

"Tortures of unthinkable bestiality were inflicted on the non- 
Bengalis who were herded by the Bengali rebels in Kushtia jail in 
March 1971. I learnt from some God-fearing Bengalis, after the 
Pakistan Army had liberated Kushtia that the Bengali rebels had 
slaughtered all their non-Bengali captives held in this jail. They 
were starved and denied water for days on end; any one who 
protested was dragged into a dungeon-like room where he was 
bludgeoned to death. The tormentors took delight in stripping their 
human prey naked and then they singed their bare bodies with 
burning cigarettes 

"There was no trace left of almost all the non-Bengali women I 
knew before tile March 1971 killing. They were also butchered. 
Some pregnant women were killed by the Bengali rebels with 
indescribable beastliness. Their wombs were ripped open with 
bayonets and their unborn babies were also killed 

"Some wounded Bengali rebels were treated in the Kushtia 
Hospital. The rebels marched quite a few of their captives to the 
Hospital where at gunpoint they were made to "donate" blood for 
the wounded Bengalis. The "donors" were promised safety by their 
captors; invariably each one of them was gunned to 
death " 



Saida Khatoon lived for some months in Kushtia. Just before 
India's armed grab of East Pakistan, she shifted to Dacca. In October 1973, 
she was repatriated to Karachi. 

"I heard the screams and crying of a Sindhi girl from the house next 
door where she was being tortured and raped by her Bengali kidnapper", 
said Mohammad Ali, 33, who was stranded in Kushtia in the last week of 
March 1971. Employed in the town of Pabna in a trading firm, he had gone 
to Kushtia on a business trip when violence against the non-Bengalis 
erupted. Born and brought up in East Pakistan, he spoke Bengali as well as 

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a native of the land. Sheltered in the house of a Bengali friend, he posed as 
a Bengali and escaped the massacre of non-Bengalis in Kushtia. He was 
repatriated to Lahore in October 1973. 



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CHAPTER TWELVE 

Butchery in Chuadanga 

"Ninetyfive per cent of the non-Bengali population in Chuadanga in 
the Kushtia district was wiped out by ruthless killer gangs of Bengali 
rebels in the last week of March and first half of April 1971", said 
Mohammed Hanif, 38, who was employed at the local Railway Station. 

Hanif, whose escape from the massacre was nothing short of a 
miracle, had lived for 22 years in East Pakistan. He had his house in the 
Murghi Patti locality of Chuadanga and he spoke Bengali fluently. In 1972, 
he escaped to Nepal from where he was repatriated to Karachi in July 
1973. He gave this account of the carnage in Chuadanga: 

"I adored East Pakistan; I liked the friendliness and gentleness of 
my Bengali friends. I knew every inch of Chuadanga. But in March 
1971, life for the non-Bengalis, like me, became unsafe because of 
the Awami League' s rebellion. Stray incidents of manhandling and 
kidnapping of non-Bengalis were reported since early March from 
some parts of the town. On March 25, the Bengali militants, armed 
with lethal weapons, went on the rampage. They attacked the 
Chuadanga Railway Station and slaughtered all the non-Bengalis 
they could lay their hands on. They looted the shops owned by non- 
Bengalis near the Railway Station. Later in the evening, the killer 
gangs stormed the houses of the non-Bengali Railway staff and 
killed many-hundreds of innocent men, women and children. Some 
teenage girls were kidnappad and subjected to multiple rape before 
being strangled to death by their captors. The Bengali rebels raided 
the Hospital in this locality; they slaughtered the non-Bengali 
patients. In the first week of April 1971, the killers grabbed the 
West Pakistani doctor-in-charge of the Hospital, Dr. M. Rahman, 
and flung him from the balcony; his skull was smashed as he struck 
the ground below. 

"The rebels looted every non-Bengali house with the thoroughness 
of vandals. They did not bury the hundreds of dead bodies which 
lay in my locality; they burnt some in blazing houses. I escaped 
from my house an hour before the pillage. Posing as a Bengali 
farmer, I stayed in a deserted shed in the fields for some days until 

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the Pakistan Army freed Chuadanga on April 17, 1971, from the 
control of the rebels. Most of my colleagues in the Railway at 
Chuadauga perished in the carnage " 

Forty-year-old Abeda Khatoon, whose husband, Masaheb Ali, was 
killed in the carnage of non-Bengalis at the Chuadanga Railway Station in 
the last week of March 1971, thus narrated the story of her travail: 

"On March 25, a yelling band of armed Bengalis raided our locality 
and blasted the door of our house. My husband, who worked as a 
porter at Chuadanga Railway station, was away from the house. 
The raiders slapped and kicked me when I said that my husband 
was away on duty. They looted my house like thieves and took 
away every article of value. They said they would come back the 
next day to get my husband " 

"At midnight, I was stunned when a neighbour brought me the 
dreadful news that my husband was killed in the slaughter of non- 
Bengalis at the Railway Station earlier in the day. He urged me not 
to go to the Railway Station otherwise the killers would kidnap me. 
I lived in my house in terror and fear, expecting the killers to call 
again in search of their quarry. But for some reason they spared me. 
In mid-April, the Pakistan Army recovered Chuadanga from the 
rebels and they melted away in the countryside or fled to India. The 
federal troops moved me to a camp for widows and orphans in 
Jessore. After two months, I returned to my old house in 
Chuadanga and stayed there until India's armed grab of East 
Pakistan. Subsequently, I shifted to Ishurdi and earned a living. In 
February 1974, 1 was repatriated to Karachi". 

The eye-witnesses of the killings in Chuadanga reported that the 
rebels inflicted spine-chilling tortures on the West Pakistani Sub- 
Divisional Officer after they had usurped control over the town. His 
pregnant wife was beaten by the rebels and his house was looted. The 
rebels kidnapped scores of teenage girls from non-Bengali homes and used 
them for mass sex assault in a school building. Before the rebels fled to 
India, they killed these unfortunate girls. Any girl who resisted or screamed 
was immediately stripped naked and shot dead in order to teach a lesson to 
the other captive girls. Some sadist rebels, it seemed, drew pleasure from 

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chopping up the breasts of teenage girls and planting the Bangladesh 

flagsticks on their ruptured wombs. 

Fifty-year-old Pari Begum, whose family of six was slaughtered in 

the murderous attack by the Bengali rebels on the non-Bengali houses near 

the Chuadanga Railway Station in the last week of March, 1971, gave this 

account of that nightmare: 

"My husband and my son-in-law were Railway employees. Owing 
to the prevailing tension in the town, both of them stayed at home 
instead of going to work at the Railway Station. We lived in a 
quarter given to us by the Railway. In the evening of March 25, 
1971, shortly after I had offered my evening prayers, the roar of 
guns and the rat -rat of machine-guns was heard in our colony. This 
was immediately followed by cue screams and groans of men, 
women and children. We had locked the doors of our house. 
Suddenly, a killer gang of Bengali rebels smashed it with iron bars 
and riddled my husband and my son-in-law with a volley of bullets 
from their sten guns. My daughter and I tried to shield her three 
little sons. "Kill these Bihari snakes", yelled one of the killers and 
in the twinkling of an eye they were gunned to death. As my 
shrieking daughter leaned over the writhing bodies of her loved 
ones, a killer shot her in the head and she died with a groan. A 
bullet hit me in the leg and I lost consciousness 

"After two days, I regained my senses. I was unable to rise; I 
crawled and wrapped up my wound with a piece of cloth, torn from 
my Sari. My loved ones lay dead in the house. I covered them with 
bedsheets and quilts. It was a dreadful scene. There was some water 
left in the earthen pot; I lived on it. I ate raw rice and pulses. In the 
first fortnight of April 1971, a battle raged between the armed 
Bengali rebels and the Pakistan Army. The Bengali rebels had 
made Chuadanga the headquarters of their government. On April 
17, the Pakistani troops entered Chuadanga and rescued me. They 
buried the dead who lay in my house, and removed me to the 
hospital where I was treated and my wound healed. Subsequently, I 
was moved to a Relief Camp in Dacca. I was repatriated to Pakistan 
in February 1974 " 



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CHAPTER THIRTEEN 

Killer Gangs in Meherpur, 
Zafarkandi 



Abdul Aziz, 33, clerk in the Jute Mill at Meherpur, gave this 
harrowing account of the massacre of non-Bengalis in his town in the last 
week of March 1971: 

"Since the beginning of March 1971, Bengali militants conducted 
sporadic attacks on the houses of non-Bengalis. Some of them were 

belaboured on the streets and a few were injured 

"The Jute Mill at Meherpur had about 150 non-Bengali work men. 
They were a small minority in the overall labour force at the Mill. 
These non-Bengalis lived in shacks in a shanty colony not far from 
the Mill. In the night of March 25, the Awami League militants and 
rebel Bengali soldiers unleashed death and destruction on the 
houses of non-Bengalis in this locality and slaughtered them en 
masse. The death toll in this incident was nearly 750. I do not think 
that there were more than a dozen survivors of this dreadful 

massacre 

"As I was a bachelor, I lived in a small room in the Mill premises. 
The Mill was not damaged by the killer gang. For four days, I lived 
confined in this room. I am grateful to my Bengali colleagues who 
did not betray me to the rebels otherwise I would have been dead. I 
stirred out of my hideout after the Pakistan Army regained control 
over Meherpur. The rebels had offered strong resistance but they 
were enventually routed. When I toured the devastated non-Bengali 
hutments, I was appalled by the savagery with which the Bengali 
rebels had liquidated the innocent non-Bengalis. Hundreds of dead 
bodies lay on the roads, in tanks, inside burnt-out houses, in the 
fields and in deserted, spooky buildings. The Army arranged their 
mass burial in view of the decomposed state of most of the corpses. 
The inmates who rushed out of their blazing houses, it appeared, 
were fired upon ruthlessly by the killers. 

"Hundreds of blood-stained Saris and other female garments 
testified to the tortures inflicted on kidnapped women by their 

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captors. The soldiers said that not more than a dozen non-Bengalis 
survived this gory killing. 

"Heaps of burnt human bones, found in the debris of the gutted 
shacks of the non-Bengali labourers of the Mill, gave tell-tale 
indications of the many human bodies which were tossed into this 
inferno for in Generation by their killers". 

The overall death toll of the non-Bengalis in the March 1971 
massacre in Meherpur was estimated to be more than 1,000. About 200 
young women were kidnapped and raped by the rebels; many of them were 
throttled or gunned to death before the rebels retreated from the town. 

The federal troops transported Abdul Aziz to Saidpur where he-was 
reunited with some of his relatives late in April 1971. In January 1974, he 
was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi. 

ZAFARKANDI 

About 600 non-Bengalis were butchered in March- April 1971 by 
the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles and the Awami league jingoes in the 
town of Zafarkandi in Kushtia district. 

In the last week of March, killer gangs attacked three localities 
where the non-Bengalis had concentrated. Their houses were looted and 
some were burnt. Their inmates were marched to execution grounds in the 
open verdant fields. Some were tortured before being shot; many others 
were lined up and sprayed with machine-gunfire. Amongst them were men, 
women and children. There were no survivors of this carnage. 

The rebels treated the kidnapped girls with bestiality. When the 
federal army recovered Zafarkandi from the control of the rebels, the 
troops found the dead bodies of many scores of young women whose 
breasts had been slashed off and their wombs were slit open. The federal 
troops pieced up a picture of the massacre by the rebels on the basis of 
evidence furnished by the Bengali witnesses who had seen the killing in 
sheer helplessness and horror. Massive rubbles were reminders of the 
existence of populous residential colonies before the holocaust was 
unloosed by the Awami League rebellion. 



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CHAPTER FOURTEEN 

Mass Murder in Ishurdi 



Eruptions of violence against the non-Bengalis, sparked off by the 
Awami League's rebellion in the first week of March 1971, gained in 
intensity and frequency in the second week of the month in the town of 
Ishurdi. The Awami League militants and the rebels from the East Pakistan 
Rifles and the Ansars ruled the town and usurped the authority of the civil 
administration. They had marked the houses of non-Bengalis in various 
localities of the town and trained their jingoes in the use of firearms and for 
the massacre of the non-Bengalis. About 2,000 non-Bengalis perished in 
the carnage. 

Forty-two-year old Shamsuzzoha, who lived in a rented house in 
the Fateh Mohammedpur locality of Ishurdi and was a thriving trader 
before the massacre, gave this account of the harrowing March 1971 
tragedy: 

"In the morning of March 25, an armed band of Awami Leaguers 
and some rebel soldiers attacked four non-Bengali families on the 
Orankhola Road and executed them publicly in the market place. 
Their dead bodies — men, women and children — were stacked in 
a pile on the wayside with a placard in Bengali which read: "This is 
the fate of those who dislike the Bengalis". Similar slogans were 
inscribed on the walls of houses in the localities where the non- 

Benealis lived 

"The next day, about 5,000 armed Bengali militants, some with sten 

guns and rifles, stormed the houses of non-Bengalis in the 

Pachchum Tengri Colony. Amongst the victims was my first 

cousin. He and his family of four were gunned to death". 

Shamsuzzoha, his wife and bis 10-year-old son had shifted from 

their house and sought refuge in the house of a Bengali friend a day before 

their locality was stormed by the rebel gunmen. Subsequently, after the 

Pakistan Army re-established its control over Ishurdi on April 11, 1971, 

they moved to Dacca from where they were repatriated to Karachi in 

October 1973. 

Twentyseven year old Ainul Haque, who lived in a small house in 
the Pachchum Tengri locality of Ishurdi and whose family of six was 
slaughtered in the March 26 massacre of non-Bengalis, had this harrowing 

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recollection of that traumatic day in his life: 

"I had lived in Ishurdi for many years; I had a small shop. I liked 
Ishurdi; it was a pleasant and quiet town. Our relations with the 

Bengalis were friendly. I spoke Bengali well 

"On March 26, about 3,000 Bengali militants, many armed with 
rifles and sten guns, made a pre-dawn attack on our locality. 
Although there had been some tension in the town for the past three 
weeks, we had not expected such a massive attack. We had no 
weapons to defend ourselves with. The killers broke into the homes 
of non-Bengalis and without uttering a word, sprayed them with 
bullets. The front door of my house was locked; they smashed it 
and entered, blazing their guns at us. My aged mother, who was 
saying her morning prayer, was the first one to be gunned in our 
house; she collapsed on the prayer rug and gave up the ghost. 
Before I could even step out of my room, the killers machine- 
gunned me, my wife and my two little children who had just woken 
up. I groaned in agony and writhed in a pool of blocd. Before I 
passed out, I saw the killers shooting my two grown up brothers. 
"For two days, I lay in a state of coma. In the morning of the third 
day, I regained consciousness. It was a ghastly sight; on the floor 
were sprawled the blood-bathed dead bodies of all my kith and kin. 
I thought I was in a delirium; I had high fever and I was terribly 
weak. I could only crawl; I kissed the lifeless, cold faces of my two 
little children. I wish I was also dead. The tragedy was insufferable 
and I again fainted. On April 11, 1971, troops of the Pakistan Army 
came to my house, removed the dead bodies for burial and took me 
to the Ishurdi hospital where I was treated for weeks for my 
wounds. There were a few other wounded survivors of the 
massacre. Almost 90 per cent of the non-Bengali population in 
Ishurdi was exterminated by the Awami League militants and the 
rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles and the Ansars. When I went back 
to my locality, it was a ghost colony. Every non-Bengali house was 
looted by the vandals; many were burnt. Almost all my friends 
were dead. Re-visiting my ransacked house was a torture; the 
memory of the slaughter of my family was unbearable. I moved to 
Dacca and in January 1974. 1 was repatriated to Karachi". 



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CHAPTER FIFTEEN 

Persecution in Paksey 

About one thousand non-Bengali families lived in Paksey, an 
important Railway centre, before the Awami League's rebellion in March 
1971. Since the beginning of the month, the Awami League militants had 
taken over virtual control of the town. The police and the para-military 
East Pakistan Rifles and Ansars had also revolted against the authority of 
the federal government. Not a day passed without demonstrations of 
strength by the Awami Leaguers in the form of large processions and 
meetings where firearms were brandished. Quite a few non-Bengali young 
men ware manhandled and the shops owned by non-Bengalis were looted. 

In the last week of March and early in April, the xenophobia 
against the non-Bengalis reached a fever-heat pitch. The non-Bengali 
residents of the Railway Colony became a target of terrorisation. Almost 
all of them were Railway employees and their families. The all-out 
massacre of the non-Bengalis in this residential colony took place on April 
9, 1971; more than 2,000 of them were done to death. This was just before 
the federal troops regained control over Paksey on April 10. 

Abu Mohammed, 52, a Railway employee who lived in the 
Railway Colony and whose family of seven was butchered in the carnage, 
related this account of the macabre tragedy in his life: 

"A killer mob of Awami League militanrs and Bengali rebels, 
blazing sten guns and rifles, attacked the Paksey Railway Station 
and the residential colony of the Railway employees in the last 
week of March. They lined up all the non-Bengali railway 
employees in the Paksey Railway Yard and gunned them to death. I 
was on duty at that time and I was injured in my left arm by a 
bullet. I fell down and I feigned death. I bled profusely and was in 
acute pain. The killers withdrew from the Railway Station in the 
afternoon and raided the residential colony on "Operation Loot, 
Burn and Kill". I heard prolonged bursts of machine-gunfire. 
"My quarter was at some distance but a mosque, where I often 
prayed, was nearby. Shortly after midnight, I succeeded in crawling 
to the mosque. There was not a flicker of light anywhere. As I 
limped into the mosque, I saw in the darkness the forms of women 
huddled on the floor. Many of them were almost naked. "We had 

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enough of hell; please kill us now", said one of them, thinking that I 
was one of the Bengali rapists. When I disclosed my identity in a 
whisper, they sighed and sobbed out the details of the slaughter of 
their menfolk, of their own kidnapping and of their rape by the 
Bengali rebels. 

"Before being dumped in the mosque", one of them said, "our 
clothes were stripped and we were marched in the nude to a school 
building where our captors ravished us. Late at night we were left 
in this mosque. The dead bodies of two teenage girls who made a 
daring escape bid on the way here are lying in the compound". In 
this melee of weeping, ravished women were the innocent 
daughters and wives of many of my colleagues in the Railway 

"The next morning, the rebels retreated and a unit of the Pakistan 
Army liberated Paksey. They rescued us; I was treated in hospital. 
All my family members had perished in the killing. The women and 
children, who survived the slaughter of the non-Bengalis, were 
taken to a Relief Camp in Dacca". 

Subsequently, Abu Mohammad was transferred to Dacca. He was 

repatriated to Karachi in February 1974. 

Shamsuzzoha, who had witnessed the killings in Ishurdi in March 

1971, also spoke of the massacre of non-Bengalis in Paksey, eight miles 

from where he lived: 

"My first cousin, Jamal Malik, was employed as a Guard in the 
East Pakistan Railway at Paksey. His family of 12 lived in a quarter 
in the Railway colony. Jamal and all his ralatives were killed in the 
third week of March, 1971. Some of the men were gunned to death 
in the quarter itself; others, including some aged men, young 
women and children, were marched to a school building with the 
promise that they would be lodged there and their lives spared. On 
the fateful day, the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles riddled them 
with machine-gunfire in the compound of the school. An hour 
before the massacre, the captive young women were taken at 
gunpoint to another school building where they were ravished by 
the rebels. Before the rebels retreated, they herded many of these 
raped women in a mosque. They were freed by the federal Army". 



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Fifteen years old, Mohammed Qayum, whose parents and elder 
sister were brutally killed in the massacre of non-Bengalis in Paksey on 
April 9, 1971, thus related the story of that ghastly episode in these words: 
"Early in the morning, a killer mob, yelling 'Joi Bangla' attacked 
the Railway colony where we lived. They looted our houses and at 
gunpoint they marched us to an old school building at some 
distance from our colony. Herded in this school were hundreds of 
other men, women and children from the Railway colony. Our 
captors had given us the false promise that our lives would be 
spared. 

"Late in the afternoon, our captors, brandishing guns, daggers and 
spears, lined up all their adult male captives. They were driven in 
two's to a corner of the compound where, before our dazed eyes, 
these hapless men were stabbed with daggers (Ramdaos) and then 
shot. My mother and my elder sister could not restrain themselves 
when our captors dragged my father towards the executioners. 
Seated in my memory is that deathly scene when two gunmen 
opened fire on my mother and my elder sister and chopped up the 
chest of my father before snuffing out the life in him with a rifle 
shot. With me stood my 8-year-old sister. Just then there was a 
stampede when some of the men prisoners attacked the captors with 
their bare hands. 

"In front of me was a deserted house; a part of it was burnt. I picked 
up my crying sister in my arms and rushed into this house. With 
bated breath, we hid ourselves under a burnt mattress in a room full 
of debris. We stayed in this spookish house for 24 hours. When my 
little sister started crying because of thirst and hunger, we tiptoed 
into a nearby field, drank some water, and sought refuge at night in 
the bushy woods on the far end of the paddy field. We ate wild 
fruits and slept on a bed of leaves. The next day, we were rescued 
by the Pakistan Army soldiers. They took us to Ishurdi where we 
lived with other orphaned children in a house. I worked as a day 
labourer and earned enough to feed myself and my sister. We 
underwent fresh travail when Ishurdi was occupied by the Indian 
Army and the Mukti Bahini late in December 1971. We were 
repatriated to Karachi in January 1974." 



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CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

Terror Rule in Noakhali 



Although the population of non-Bengalis in Noakhali did not 
exceed 2,500, they commanded respect in the town and their relations with 
the Bengalis were friendly. Most of them were employed in trading firms; 
some owned shops and small businesses. Since the middle of March 1971 
tension was felt in Noakhali and the non-Bengalis felt unsafe. On March 
21-23, 1971, armed bands of Awami Leaguers and the rebels from the East 
Pakistan Rifles and Ansars conducted the extermination of the non-Bengali 
ethnic minority in Noakhali. It is estimated that some 2,000 non-Bengali 
men, women and children were butchered in this carnage. The rebels 
kidnapped many non-Bengali teenage girls, raped them and killed most of 
them before the Pakistan Army routed them in the last week of April, 197 1 . 

An eye-witness of the March killing in Noakhali was Fazlul 
Haque, 37, who worked in the Noakhali branch of the Eastern Federal 
Insurance Company. Before his posting in Noakhali in 1969, he lived in 
Chittagong. He was all by himself in Noakhali; his parents and other 
relatives were in Chittagong. His testimony reads: 

"A dozen Urdu- speaking employees of the Eastern Federal 
Insurance Company had rented an apartment on New Road in 
Noakhali. It was like a Mess. I lived in this apartment. My co- 
residents and I had good relations with our Bengali 
neighbours 

"In the second week of March 1971, some non-Bengalis were 
roughed up, without the slightest provocation, by Awami League 
militants. On March 20, 1971, when I went to my office, some 
Bengali colleagues warned me that the Awami League militants 
would attack the houses of non-Bengalis. They urged me not to go 
back to my apartment. In the afternoon, armed bands of Awami 
Leaguers went on the rampage against non-Bengalis, looting their 
houses and gunning the men to death. I hid myself for three days in 
the bathroom of my office building. Subsequently, I sought refuge 
in the home of a Bengali colleague. The killers had raided the 
communal apartment where I used to live and they had murdered 

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all the nine inmates. Two others, like me, were forewarned and had 
stayed away. Almost threefourth of the non-Bengali population in 
Noakhali perished in this pogrom. Even women and children were 
slaughtered by the hundreds". 

Witnesses from Noakhali said that they had received reports of 
violence against non-Bengali families in Maijdi, Begumganj, Chaumohni, 
Hatia and Lakshmipur. The population of non-Bengalis at these places was 
not large and they were scattered. Some non-Bengali traders, it seems, 
were held for ransom and their retail shops were looted. At Maijdi Railway 
station, some non-Bengali Railway employees were manhandled and killed 
during the March 1971 disturbances. Between the last week of March and 
the last week of April 1971, a few non-Bengalis were killed by the Awami 
League militants in some of the off-shore islands, including Sandwip, 
South Hatia, and Dakhin Shahbazpur. 



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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

Sorrows of Sylhet 

The intensity of the Awami League's rebellion in most parts of the 
Sylhet district was not as severe as in many other districts of the province. 
One of the reasons was that the population of non-Bengalis in Sylhet was 
not large. Another reason was that the indigenous inhabitants of Sylhet (of 
Assamese origin) were opposed to the Awami League's plans for 
establishing an independent Bengali state. In the 1947 British- supervised 
referendum on the issue whether Sylhet should stay in India or join 
Pakistan, the people of the district gave a massive vote in favour of 
Pakistan. The proposal for a province of North Bengal drew immense 
support from the indigenous Assamese inhabitants of Sylhet district. 

The Awami League's terror machine wrecked the peace in Sylhet in 
March 1971 and some non-Bengalis were slaughtered by murderous gangs 
of Awami League militants who received arms smuggled from 
neighbouring India. In the tea gardens in Sylhet district, Awami League 
activists incited the Bengali labour to violence against the non-Bengali 
executives and other staff members and some families were slaughtered. 
The exact number of the non-Bengalis in Sylhet who were killed in March 
1971 is difficult to ascertain but it is believed to be in the neighbourhood of 
500. 

"The killer gang broke into our house in Sylhet and gunned my 
only son and his wife to death", said 50-year-old Mrs. Wahida Khatoon 
in Karachi. Her son, Zafar Ahmed Siddiqi, employed as an Accountant in 
the Sylhet office of the Pakistan International Airlines, and his wife, 
Siddiqa, were shot dead on April 4, 1971, by a posse of rebel gunmen in 
their home in the heart of the town. When Wahida Khatoon tried to save 
her son, a killer shot at her and the bullet scraped her skull, leaving a gash 
in it. She still bears the scar of that wound. But far worse is the scar on her 
heart caused by the slaughter of her son and his wife. Wahida Begum said 
in her testimony: 

"The killers said they were shooting us because we did not belong 
to Bengal and because Urdu was our mother tongue. They looted 
our house 



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"I was wounded and I bled profusely. My son, Zafar' s six children 
were orphaned. In this horrifying tragedy, our 18-year-old Bengali 
maidservant, Hajera, was a tower of strength. She shielded my 
grand-children from the fire and fury of the rebels who had killed 
my son and his wife. The Bengali land lord of our house, moved by 
our plight, sheltered us in his own home and arranged for my 
medical treatment. Our maid servant, Hajera, looked after me and 
my grand-children with utmost devotion and at a peril to her life. 
Of Bengali origin, she was born in Sylhet and had worked in our 
home for some years 

"My eldest son, Nasim Ahmed Siddiqi, was employed as an 
Executive Engineer in Serajganj. In March 1971, his house was 
looted by the rebels and he was tortured in the local jail. His life 
was saved by his Bengali assistant 

"When the killer gang ransacked our house, Hajera begged them 
not to kill us. She was hit by a gunman's bullet in the leg as she 
leaned over Zafar' s little daughter to protect her. 

"On May 4, we left Sylhet and came to Pakistan through a long and 
arduous route. Hajera came with us and cheerfully bore the 
tribulations of this hazardous journey 

"I can never forget that grisly night of April 4, 1971, when the 
killer gang had murdered, before my stunned eyes, my son and his 
wife and I was injured. All through the night, Hajera and the 
children cried over the blood- spattered bodies of Zafar and his wife. 
The next day some Sylheti neighbours and our Bengali landlord 
came and buried the dead bodies in the grave yard and I was 
hospitalised with their help " 



Reports of violence against non-Bengali families were received in 
March- April 1971 from Lalabazar, Fenchuganj, Gopalganj, Gobinda-ganj, 
Balaganj and Jagannathpur. The federal Army secured Sylhet on April, 10, 
1971. 

Mohammed Jalaluddin Khan, 22, whose father was the Station 
Master at the Mantala Railway Station near Sylhet, testified after his 

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patriation to Lahore from Dacca in September 1973: 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"I was a Third Year student in the Shah Jalal College at Mantala. In 
the 1947 Partition, my parents had migrated from Uttar 
Pradesh in India to East Pakistan. On March 2, 1971, a gang of 
Awami League hoodlums raided our house in Mantala and took 
away all the valuables in our home. But they spared our lives. My 
father had built a house in Ghorasal near Dacca because he 
intended to live there after his retirement from the Railway service. 
Soon after our house in Mantala was looted, we proceeded by train 
to Ghorasal. At the Railway Station, a Bengali member of the 
Jamaat-e-Islami told us that Ghorasal had become unsafe for non- 
Bengalis and that we should go to Dacca (where my brother-in-law 
lived in the Mohammedpur locality). In Dacca, the Awami 
League's terror regime held the city in its grip and life was a 
nightmare for the non-Bengalis. We lived in Mohammedpur which 
was an oasis of safety for the non-Bengalis. For days, we held at 
bay killer gangs led by the Awami League militants. Some of the 
non-Bengalis from Mohammedpur, who committed the folly of 
stirring out of the locality at night, were never seen again; they 
were shanghaied and liquidated by killer gangs. The Pakistan 
Army's intervention on March 25, 1971, was a life-saver for us". 

After the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini seized Dacca in the 
third week of December 1971, Jalaluddin and his elder brother were 
kidnapped from Mohammedpur by a killer gang and taken to a human 
slaughter-house in a river-side area called Bandh in Dacca. Jalaluddin was 
almost petrified when he saw these cut-throats butchering his elder brother. 
"I prayed to God", said Jalaluddin, "and all of a sudden I felt the surge of 
strength in my body. I broke through the cordon of the slaughterers and ran 
towards the Bihari Camp in the Girls' College on Nurjehan Road. The 
Bengali officer-in-charge of the Camp gave me asylum and I lived in it 
until my repatriation to Pakistan in September 1973." 



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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 

Shootings in Molvi Bazar, 
Bheramara, Narkuldanga 

"The Bengali insurgents made their non-Bengali captives dig their 
own graves before gunning them to death" reported 34-year-old 
Qamruddin Khan, who owned a tailoring shop in the Tulsitala locality of 
Molvi Bazar. 

"There were very few survivors of the March- April, 1971 massacre 
of the non-Bengalis in Molvi Bazar", he added. 

Qamruddin Khan, who was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in 
October 1973, had this recollection of that heart-chilling pogrom: 

"I had migrated in 1950 from Bihar to East Pakistan. I liked Molvi 
Bazar and I set up my business of tailoring. I spoke Bengali very 
well and I had Bengali and non-Bengali customers. 

"There had never before been any tension between the Bengalis and 
the non-Bengalis. Since early March 1971, the Awami League 
militants were fanning hatred for the non-Bengalis by spreading all 
manner of false rumours. 

"On March 19-20, the lava burst and the Awami Leaguers and the 
rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles and the police conducted the 
wholesale slaughter of the non-Bengalis — men, women and 
children. Non-Bengali men who resisted the Bengali attackers in 
their homes were gunned to death right inside their homes; others 
were dragged to paddy fields or the banks of rivers where they were 
lined up and machine-gunned. Many dead bodies were thrown in 
heaps in shallow graves; others were tossed into the river. The 
killers showed no mercy to children, particularly boys. Good- 
looking teenage girls were kidnapped for sexual assault by the 
insurgents; most of them were shot or throttled to death before their 
violators fled from the town after the Pakistan Army liberated it on 
April 28, 1971." 



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Qamruddin had a miraculous escape; he sought refuge in a small 
Mosque where he lived as a dumb mendicant for a month. 

He added: "Some Bengalis tried to protect their non-Bengali 
neighbours. This was at a grave risk to their own lives. The police had 
ceased to function; the policemen had joined the rebels in plunder and 
murder. Anyone who challenged the Bengali rebels was swiftly liquidated. 
My estimate is that some 2,000 non-Bengalis perished in the March- April, 
1971 massacre in Molvi Bazar." 

BHERAMARA 

"I wish my captors had killed me just as they had slaughtered my 
loving husband in Bheramara on March 22, 1971", said 21-year-old Nasim 
Jahan, who was abducted and ravished by a Bengali rebel during the 
Awami League' s uprising in East Pakistan. 

Nasim, who was repatriated to Karachi in November 1973, sobbed 
out the story of her woes and suffering in these words: 

"We lived in the Taltala locality of Bheramara; our neighbours 
were mostly non-Bengalis. My husband, Qudratullah, was 
employed in a local trading firm. He had a double-barrel gun in the 
house 

"Since the first week of March 1971, the non-Bengalis were 
subjected to threats and intimidation by the Awami League 
militants. In the middle of the month, when the rebels of the East 
Pakistan Rifles and the Ansars joined the Awami Leaguers, some 
non-Bengalis were savaged on the streets. 



"On March 22, a huge mob of armed insurgents went berserk and 
soaked our locality in blood. Many of the attackers had rifles and 
machine-guns. When they raided our house, my brave husband 
tried to hold them at bay by firing his gun on them. They riddled 
our house with bullets. When our ammunition was exhausted, the 
gunmen ripped open our front door and killed my husband brutally. 
As he writhed in the agony of death, they brained his skull with a 
bayonet. The memory of that heart-rending scene haunts me 
constantly. I tried to kill myself with a kitchen knife to escape their 
clutches; one of them overpowered me and dragged me to a 

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deserted building where many captive young women like me were 
held under heavy guard. Late at night, a killer gang arrived to feast 
on us; we were their booty, their slavegirls. It was the night of 
insufferable torture, shame and sin for the captive non-Bengali 
women 

"The next morning, one of our captors claimed me as his share of 
the loot. A bachelor, he said he needed a cook in his house. At 
gunpoint and wearing a torn Sari, I walked in shame and tears to his 
mudhouse. He warned me that I would be caught and killed if I 
tried to escape. For a fortnight, I lived in his bouse and cooked food 
for him and he raped me. A day before the federal troops captured 
Bheramara, he said he would quit the town and that as an act of 
mercy he would spare my life. The captors of the other non-Bengali 
girls had instructions from the rebel commander to kill them before 
withdrawing from the town " 

After Bheramara was liberated by a contingent of the Pakistan 
Army, Nasim Jahan was moved to a Relief Camp in Dacca. Along with 
some relatives, she escaped to Nepal and lived in Kathmandu for some 
months. 



NARKULDANGA 

Maqsood Ahmed, 22, who was a student in Bheramara, lost his 
two brothers and his paternal uncle in the carnage of non-Bengalis in 
Narkuldanga on March 22-23, 1971. He escaped to Nepal and was 
repatriated from there to Karachi in January 1974. He gave this account of 
the March massacre: 



"The Bengalis and non-Bengalis had lived like brothers in 
Bheramara and Narkuldanga. We lived in the Ferozepur Colony in 
Narkuldanga; most of its residents were non-Bengalis. Some years 
ago, a non-Bengali religious divine died; Bengalis and non- 
Bengalis jointly contributed to the construction of a tomb for him. 
Every year, on the occasion of his death anniversary, there used to 
be large congregations of Bengalis and non-Bengalis at Feroze 
Baba's tomb. The Mosque in our locality always drew a large 

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crowd of Muslims at prayer-time. 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"Since the first week of March 1971, Awami Leaguers sowed 
discord between Bengalis and non-Bengalis by spreading false 
rumours. We learnt that some armed Bengalis from India had 
surreptitiously come to Bheramara and Narkuldanga and that they 
were training the local Awami Leaguers in the use of firearms 

"On March 23, about 500 Awami Leaguers and rebel soldiers, 
armed with sten guns, rifles and daggers (Ramdaos) attacked our 
locality and slaughtered the non-Bengali menfolk by the hundreds. 
Some families who sought refuge in the premises of this tomb were 
mowed down with gunfire. The rebels looted every house after its 
non-Bengali occupants had been liquidated. They murdered even 
children. The killers kidnapped many young women and teenage 
girls. They were raped and quite a few were shot dead before the 
rebels retreated from the town. I had slipped out of my house just 
when the slayers entered our locality; I hid myself in a grain store 
for some days. My uncle and my two elder brothers were killed by 
the rebels." 



The death toll in the massacre of the non-Bengalis in Bheramara 
and Narkuldanga in March- April 1971 was estimated at more than 2,000. 
An accurate figure was difficult to reach because the rebels burnt many 
dead bodies in blazing houses. 

Zamir Ali, 52, who lived in the Ferozepur Colony in Narkuldanga, 
spent the last two weeks of March 1971 in Raita with his cousin who was 
married to a Bengali woman. His cousin was a contractor and did business 
with the Railway staff at Raita. According to Zamir Ali, six non-Bengali 
families were murdered in the last week of March 1971 by the Bengali 
rebels in Raita town and their dead bodies were flung into the Padma 
River. The house of his cousin was attacked in mid-March by a killer squad 
but the plaintive urgings of his Bengali wife, whose father wielded 
influence in Raita, saved the family from the cut-throats, Zamir Ali was 
repatriated to Pakistan in December 1973. 

While he was away in Raita, Zamir Ali's one-room house in 
Narkuldanga was looted by the rebels. He did not have a family; his wife 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



and his son had died in 1967 in a smallpox epidemic. According to Zamir 
Ali, the Bengali rebels escaped en masse to India from Raita and many 
other towns in the Kushtia district. The fleeing Bengali rebels from 
Bheramara and Narkuldanga, he said, brought with them many teenage 
non-Bengali captive girls to Raita en route to West Bengal where the 
Indian authorities gave them sanctuary. Some non-Bengali girls, who tried 
to escape, were brutally killed by their captors, he added. 

Razzaq Ali, who lived and worked in Bheramara, was in the town 
of Kumarkhali in the last week of March 1971. Aged 44, Razzaq was 
employed as a clerk in a small trading firm in Bheramara. He claimed that 
almost all the 100 or more non-Bengalis in Kumarkhali were massacred in 
the last week of March by the Bengali rebels. He was repatriated to 
Pakistan in January 1974. He testified: 

" I was born in Calcutta, and, although my father hailed from 

Bihar, I spoke Bengali like a native. After Partition in 1947, I 
settled in the Kushtia district. The Awami Leaguers and their 
supporters massacred most of the non-Bengali male adults in 
Bheramara. I was a bachelor and I lived with a Bengali family 
whom I had known from Calcutta. I had to go to Kumarkhali on 
urgent business. I was not detected by the Bengali rebels because of 
my excellent command of the Bengali language. On March 28, I 
saw dozens of dead bodies of non-Bengali men on the pavements in 
Kumarkhali; their houses were looted and burnt " 



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CHAPTER NINETEEN 

Death Stalks Rangpur 

Militants of the Awami League and the Bengali rebels from the 
East Pakistan Rifles went on the warpath against the non-Bengalis in 
Rangpur town in the second week of March 1971. Non-Bengalis who lived 
in Bengali-inhabited localities were terrorised and driven from their homes. 
Some were kidnapped and hacked to death in nearby paddy fields. The 
police force had joined the rebels. The Bengali rebels declared total war on 
the non-Bengalis in the last week of March 1971 when armed mobs 
attacked the predominantly non-Bengali localities in the town and stayed 
more than 5,000 innoccent men, women and children. 

The flames of strife and bloodshed engulfed almost every town in 
the Rangpur district. The loss of non-Bengali lives was particularly heavy 
in the towns of Saidpur, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat. Estimates of the 
death toll of non-Bengalis in these three towns range from 6,000 to 10,000. 
An impediment in the way of arriving at a correct estimate was the fact that 
the murderers floated the bodies of many of their victims in the rivers or 
incinerated them in blazing houses. 

Twenty-five-year old Mohammed Yusuf, who worked as a Motor 
Mechanic in Rangpur and lived in the Alamnagar colony in a thatched hut, 
was the lone survivor in a family of twelve. His parents, his five brothers 
and four other close relatives were liquidated by a killer gang in the last 
week of March 1971. Yusuf, who was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in 
February 1974, had this recollection of the carnage of non-Bengalis in 
Rangpur town: 

"In the night of March 27, 1971, about 500 armed Awami Leaguers 
and soldiers from the East Pakistan Rifles encircled our Bihari- 
inhabited locality, looted and burnt many huts and opened a barrage 
of gunfire as their victims tried to escape from the conflagration. 
The killers smashed into our little house and sprayed us with bullets 
from their blazing guns. All of us writhed in a stream of blood 
which spouted from our bullet-riddled bodies. I was hit in the left 
thigh and I lost consciousness. When I woke up the next morning, I 
was the only one alive in our family of twelve. An abondoned barn 
was my hideout for a week until the federal troops arrived and the 
rebels fled on April 26, 1971." 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



The destruction brought by the rebels in Rangpur, added 
Mohammed Yusuf, was premeditated and wanton. The scale and ferocity 
of it was beyond the wildest imagination of the non-Bengalis. 

"I learnt from a few other survivors of the massacre", continued 
Mohammed Yusuf, "that after the killer gang had slaughtered the non- 
Bengali menfolk and most of their male children; the women were herded 
in the building of the Iqbal High School. The young ones were stripped of 
their clothes at gunpoint and marched off to a nearby building where they 
were assaulted and raped by the rebels. Before the insurgents retreated 
from Rangpur, they murdered these unfortunate girls and scattered their 
naked bodies either in the river or in the lush green fields". 

Junaid Ahmed, 21, who was a College student in Rangpur and 
lived with his parents and two brothers in a rented house on Satgumbad 
Road, was injured in the massacre of non-Bengalis in his locality on March 
23, 1971. Junaid, who was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in January 
1974, had this recollection of that horrifying scene: 

"My father, Aqil Ahmed, was a clerk in the Patna High Court. In 
August 1947, after Pakistan was established, my parents migrated 
to East Pakistan and made Rangpur their home. I was born in 
Rangpur. Although we spoke excellent Bengali, we were 
considered Biharis. We had no relatives left in Bihar. Rangpur was 

our home 

"On March 10, peace in Rangpur was disturbed when a band of 
Awami Leaguers, armed with guns, spears and daggers, attacked a 
cluster of non-Bengali houses and shops. Some Biharis were killed 
or maimed. After this event, the non-Bengalis lived in terror and 
almost every day one or two incidents of the manhandling of non- 
Bengalis by thugs of the Awami League were reported. There were 
widespread round-ups of non-Bengalis by the rebels. 

"On March 23, about six hundred armed Awami Leaguers and rebel 
soldiers of the East Pakistan Rifles stormed our locality and spread 
fire and death in non-Bengali homes. We had no weapons to resist 
these gun-blazing cut-throats. They machine gunned me and the 
other members of my family. I miraculously survived 



'I estimate that the death toll in my locality was in the 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



neighbourhood of 5,000. The killers murdered 2,000 men, 700 
women and 2,300 children. They kidnapped at least 500 teenage 
girls; many were raped and killed and some were taken away by the 
rebels to India " 

"Almost all the non-Bengalis in Kishoreganj were liquidated by the 
Bengali rebels in the last week of March 1971", said Jamal Ahmed, 48, 
who lived in the Alamnagar colony in Rangpur town. Employed in a retail 
store in Rangpur, he often visited neighbouring towns on business errands. 
Very fluent in Bengali, Ahmed had many Bengali and non-Bengali friends 
in Kishoreganj. On March 23-24, he was in Kishoreganj when the militants 
in an Awami League- sponsored procession went berserk and looted the 
shops and houses owned by non-Bengalis. Over the next few days, he said, 
the avalanche of the Awami League's terror hit the non-Bengalis with 
catastrophic suddenness and there was a wholesale slaughter of the non- 
Bengali population. The killer gangs, he added, asked no questions from 
their victims; they just sprayed them with bullets. Jamal Ahmed's Bengali 
business friend in Kishoreganj protected him in his house for more than a 
week. When he returned to Rangpur in the third week of April, he found, to 
his utter dismay, that his house in Alamnagar had been looted and his wife 
and sister-in-law were kidnapped. For months, he frantically searched for 
them but they remained untraced. He was repatriated to Karachi in 
November 1973. 

Jamal Ahmed reported that small groups of non-Bengalis, who 
lived in Badarganj, Mahiganj, Pirgacha and Kaunia, were wiped out by the 
Bengali rebels in the last week of March and the first fortnight of April 
1971. Most of the Awami Leaguers and their supporters, who had 
masterminded and executed the grisly killings in Rangpur, he said, fled to 
West Bengal in India after the Pakistan Army regained control over the 
area late in April 1971. He claimed that he had seen Bengali Hindus from 
the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal in Kishoreganj and they were 
well-armed. According to Jamal Ahmed, many non-Bengali passengers 
were murdered by Awami League cadres in launches in the Tista river and 
he came to know of it from a Bengali friend who was related to a Serang 
(Captain of the boat). 



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CHAPTER TWENTY 

Gunfire Ravages Nilphamari, 
Saidpur 

Some 5,000 non-Bengalis lived in Nilphamari town in Rangpur 
district before the March 1971 disturbances. In the last week of the 
month — March 23 to 30 — almost half of them were decimated. The 
instigators of the carnage and the executioners were the armed Awami 
League volunteers, aided by the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles. 

Jamila Khatoon, 55, whose three sons, two daughters and a son- 
in-law perished in the slaughter in her locality, Kopilmoni, in the night of 
March 24-25, 1971, thus related her story: 

"We had lived for many years in Nilphamari. All of us spoke 
Bengali very well. After the death of my husband, my sons looked 
after me 



"Stray incidents in which non-Bengalis were the victims had taken 
place in some parts of Nilphamari since the third of March 1971. 
We had heard rumours that the Awami Leaguers and the rebel 
policemen were secretly planning the massacre of the non-Bengalis 
but we had no way of escape 

"In the morning of March 24, the flames of organized violence 
engulfed our locality. A large mob of armed miscreants raided non- 
Bengali homes and brutally killed their inmates; their houses were 
looted and some were burnt. In the night, a killer gang smashed the 
front door of our house and, without utterirg a word, 
machinegunned the inmates. My three sons, my two daughters, my 
son-in-law and I were hit and we slumped to the ground in a pool of 
blood. The raiders hurriedly looted out valuables and trooped out 
for the next kill. I was injured in the leg and I lost consciousness. 
The next morning when. I awoke I found that all my dear ones were 
dead. It was a ghastly scene in the house. The dead bodies were 
buried after the Pakistan Army regained control over Nilphamari. I 
went to live with a relative in Chittagong late in 1971 after I had 

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lost my eye-sight. The tragedy in my life had made me blind. I was 
repatriated to Karachi in February 1974." 

Jamila recalled that the murderous gangs had kidnapped many non- 
Bengali teenage girls whose dead bodies were found in derelict tanks after 
the rebels retreated from the town. 

SAIDPUR 

"At least 5,000 non-Bengalis perished in the massacre in Saidpur, 
an important Railway Centre, in the last week of March 1971", said 
Nuruddin Ahmed, 42, an employee of the East Pakistan Railway at that 
time. 

Nuruddin Ahmed lived in Railway Quarter No. 59/A in Saidpur. 
Amongst those killed was his son-in-law. His daughter was kidnapped by 
the rebels. His account of the gory events in Saidpur reads: 

"In 1947, I had opted for service in Pakistan and was transferred 
from the Howrah Railway Station to Chittagong. Later on, I was 
posted to Saidpur where I lived for 11 years. I had married my 
daughter, Shahla to a young Railway employee and they lived in a 
separate Railway Quarter 

"On March 25, a large mob of armed Awami League volunteers 
and rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles attacked the non-Bengali 
residential areas in Saidpur, including those in the Railway Colony. 
They killed my son-in-law and his brothers and kidnapped my 
daughter and her sister-in-law. When the Pakistan Army re- 
established its control, I did my best to locate them but to this day I 
am unaware of their fate " 



Nuruddin was not in his house on the fateful day when the non- 
Bengali homes were attacked and he escaped the massacre. He added: 

"After the Pakistan Army re-occupied Saidpur early in April, 1971, 
the local Administration set up a Peace Committee to maintain 
peace and to dissuade the non-Bengalis from seeking revenge for 
the massacre conducted by the Bengali rebels. After India's military 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



victory in East Pakistan in December 1971, we underwent woeful 
suffering and many non-Bengalis were killed by the Mukti Bahini 
and their supporters. With great difficulty I succeeded in escaping 
to Nepal from where I was repatriated to Karachi in July 1973." 



Another eye-witness from Saidpur, Hasina Begum, whose son was 
a Railway employee at Kamlapur Railway Station, reported that on March 
25, 1971, her house was looted by the Bengali rebels when they went on 
the rampage against non-Bengalis. Her son escaped the March 1971 killing 
but late in December 1971, he was kidnapped by the Mukti Bahini and 
remained untraced. Hasina, 42, came to Karachi in December 1973. 

Other eye-witnesses reported that a mob of at least 8,000 armed 
Bengalis staged the bloodbath of non-Bengalis in Saidpur on March 24-25, 
1971. Before starting the pogrom, the killer mob had blueprinted the plan 
of slaughter and the houses of non-Bengalis in Saidpur were marked. Prior 
to the raid on their homes, every shop owned by a non-Bengali was looted 
and burnt. A jeep of the Pakistan Army, which was moving on the highway 
on the fringes of the town, was ambushed by an unruly mob. The five West 
Pakistani soldiers riding in it were overwhelmed and done to death. The 
jeep was grabbed and used by a group of insurgents from the East Pakistan 
Rifles for their lawless and destructive operations in Saidpur. 

Witnesses from Saidpur said that by the third week of March 1971, 
the entire local administration had joined the Awami League's insurrection. 
On March 19, the Deputy Commissioner of Rangpur presided over a 
meeting of Awami League leaders and district officials where specially- 
summoned leaders of the non-Bengalis were told that they would be wiped 
out if they did not support the rebellion actively. 

Late in the night of March 23, 1971, more than 1,00,000 armed 
Bengali rebels attacked the non-Bengali settlements in Saidpur and Golahat 
and the Pakistan Army's garrison in Saidpur Cantonment. The siege 
continued for some 36 hours during which the Bengali rebels put to the 
torch 94 houses and shops belonging to non-Bengalis in Saidpur town. In 
the Cantonment, the Bengali troops of the East Bengal Regiment rebelled 
and attacked the West Pakistani officers and soldiers. Swiftly recovering 
from the initial surprise, the West Pakistani troops overpowered the 
Bengali mutineers and the Awami League raiders from the town and its 
neighbourhood. A daring Army officer from West Pakistan, Captain Fateh 
Mohammed Shah, struck out from the Cantonment with a company of 

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soldiers and rescued the beleaguered non-Bengalis in Saidpur town and the 
Railway Station. By the forenoon of March 29, 1971, Saidpur town and 
Golahat were firmly under the control of the Pakistan Army and the 
Bengali rebels retreated in disarray. For days, before the Bengali rebels 
attacked the Saidpur Cantonment on March 23-25, the Awami League 
insurrectionists had blocked the despatch of supplies from the Saidpur 
Railway Station to the Army garrison. But as the Army was under 
instruction from Islamabad to show the utmost restraint, the West Pakistani 
troops in Saidpur cantonment took no punitive action against the Awami 
League militants. It was only after the insurrectionists, abortive attempt to 
seize the cantonment that the West Pakistani troops went into action on 
March 25, 1971. 

The Government of Pakistan's White Paper of August 1971 on the 
East Pakistan crisis contained this account of the grisly events in Saidpur 
on March 25, 1971: 

"In Saidpur, four violent mobs, armed with rifles, shot guns and 
daggers, who had come from neighbouring villages, converged on 
Saidpur town and attacked Golahat, an adjacent locality, killing 
three persons and injuring 17. 

"Among the wounded, two had sustained bullet injuries while 
another seven were hurt from shot-gun fire. The remaining persons 
were injured by poles and clubs. Fifty houses were also burnt. The 
troops had to open fire and three persons were injured. Later, 
another violent mob attacked Saidpur Cantonment. They fired at 
troops with shot-guns. The soldiers had to open fire, injuring five 
persons." 

Witnesses said that a violent mob, which went on the rampage in 
Saidpur against non-Bengalis on March 25, was led by Awami League 
militants who incited the mob to loot and burn non-Bengali houses and kill 
their inmates. The killer mob indulged in orgies of violence in 
neighbouring Golahat also where most of the non-Bengalis were killed or 
maimed. Holding up trains and picking off the non-Bengali passengers had 
become a favourite pastime of the Bengali killer gangs. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 

Killings in Lalmonirhat 

Lalmonirhat, an important Railway Centre in the Rangpur district, 
felt the repercussions of the Awami League's rebellion from the first week 
of March 1971. The local Awami Leaguers and their supporters staged 
frequent shows of strength to frighten the non-Bengalis. Armed with 
staves, daggers and shotguns, they led large processions through those 
localities where the non-Bengalis were concentrated. On March 9, 1971, a 
blood-thirsty mob of armed Awami league volunteers and rebels from the 
East Pakistan Rifles attacked the houses of non-Bengalis not far from the 
Railway Station and caused heavy casualties. They looted and burnt many 
houses and killed about 200 non-Bengalis. In the last week of March, their 
genocidal campaign reached its pitch and killer gangs liquidated another 
800 non-Bengalis in the town. About 500 young non-Bengali women were 
kidnapped and many were ravished by their captors. 

Thirty- year-old Zohra, whose husband, Mohammed Israel, owned 
a provision store and house near the Railway Station, gave this account of 
the gory happenings in Lalmonirhat in March 1971: 

"Although our relations with our Bengali neighbours were cordial, 
Awami League volunteers from other parts of the town had held out 
alarming threats to the non-Bengalis in our locality. My husband 
and I wanted to shift, with our children, to Chittagong where also 
we owned a small house. But travel from Lalmonirhat was 
hazardous because of the slaying of non-Bengalis in trains and on 
the highways 

"A major flare-up occurred on March 9 when about 200 armed 
Bengali militants raided our locality, looted non-Bengali homes and 
set many houses ablaze. They looted and burnt our shop; they burst 
into my house and stole every article of value, including my 
ornaments. My husband was away; they turned me and my two 
children out of the house and set it on fire. Some Bengali 
neighbours pleaded for our lives and the killers spared us. We 
watched our house burn and we wrung our hands in despair; my 

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ears were deafened by the rat-rat of machine-guns and the screams 
and groans of the victims. The killer gang retired from this locality 
late at night 

"We sat on the pavement all through the night; in the early hours of 
the morning, the intensity of the fire which burnt three-fourth of our 
house subsided. We slipped inside and lived a haunted life for 20 
days until the federal army liberated Lalmonirhat. The fact that 
most of our house was burnt saved our lives from a killer gang 
which was again on the loose in our locality in the last week of 
March. My husband had joined us but we had to hide him because 
the rebels were murdering all the non-Bengali men 

"On March 29, when we had no water and food left in the house, 
the federal troops entered Lalmonirhat and rescued us. They 
arranged our shifting to Chittagong but our house there was reduced 
to rubble. The Awami League terrorists had burnt it in mid-March. 
We lived in a rented house and my husband hawked merchandise 
and earned enough to feed us 

"On December 17, 1971, when East Pakistan was seized by India 
and the Mukti Bahini, our misfortunes began afresh. The Mukti 
Bahini looted our home and threw us on the streets. We sought 
refuge in a camp for non-Bengalis in the Sirdar Bahadur School 
building in Chittagong. On the night of December 18/19, 1971, a 
killer gang, led by the killers of the Mukti Bahini, raided this school 
building and "arrested" all the non-Bengali men and teenage boys. 
My husband was one of them. I fell down at the feet of one of these 
gunmen; but he kicked me in the face and my forehead bled. I was 
utterly helpless. My children and I lived in this camp for two years. 
I made frantic efforts to get news of my husband. There were 
rumours that the Mukti Bahini had murdered all the non-Bengali 
men they had hijacked from our camp. In January 1974, my 
children and I were repatriated to Karachi from Chittagong. My 
constant prayer to God is to re-unite us with my husband." 

Thirty-year-old Zahida Khatoon, whose husband, Mohammed 
Ismail, was employed at Lalmonirhat in the East Pakistan Railway, 

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lamented over the tragedy of her widowhood in these words: 

"We had lived for many years in Lalmonirhat where my husband 
was a Railway employee. On March 20, when my husband had 
gone on duty on a train to Santahar, a killer gang of Bengali rebels 
raided our locality and killed many non-Bengalis. They smashed 
into my house and looted it like savage vandals 

"When my husband did not return from Santahar, I became very 
worried. I made frantic inquiries from the Railway authorities but 
there was no word about him. After the federal troops had re- 
established their control in our town, I learnt that my husband was 
slaughtered by the Bengali rebels in Santahar. I also learnt that all 
my relatives who lived in Santahar were butchered there 

"Forced to fend for myself, I eked out a living with great difficulty 
and fed myself and my three little children. After the Mukti Bahini 
occupied Lalmonirhat on December 17, 1971, our sufferings began 
afresh. The non-Bengali women, who had no male relatives left, 
fled to Saidpur where we were told that the Red Cross would 
protect us. After living there in abject poverty for two months, we 
were shifted to Chittagong where we lived on the doles of the Red 
Cross for two years. In February 1974, I was repatriated to 
Karachi " 

Zahida hopes against hope that her husband might still be alive. 
"After all I did not see him dead", she insists. She thinks that a "savage 
madness" had gripped a large portion of the Bengali population in 
Lalmonirhat in March 1971 and that they committed inconceivable 
atrocities in that state of insanity. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO 

Inferno in Jessore 



Jessore, a cantonment town of strategic importance near the Indian 
border, witnessed a bloodbath of thousands of non-Bengalis and some pro- 
Pakistan Bengalis between the first week of March and the early days of 
April 1971. The killers were the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles and 
police, armed Awami League volunteers and Hindu Bengali infiltrators 
from India. 

The strength of the beleaguered West Pakistani troops in the Jessore 
cantonment was too inadequate to contain the xenophobic fury and 
homicidal frenzy of the rebel soldiers and their Awami League supporters. 
The first gruesome incident during this period of gunfire and gore occurred 
on March 4, 1971 when a train corning from Khulna was derailed by a 
gang of saboteurs at Jessore. Scores of non-Bengali passengers — men, 
women and children — were pulled out of the train compartments by armed 
Bengali militants, looted and done to death. Their dead bodies were strewn 
on the rail track. Estimates of the death toll of non-Bengalis in Jessore in a 
month of the Awami League's rule of terror range from 12,000 to 20,000. 

In the Jhumjhumpur Colony in Jessore, rebel soldiers of the East 
Pakistan Rifles killed, maimed or kidnapped more than 5,000 non-Bengalis 
between March 25 and April 4. Some 500 non-Bengali young women were 
abducted to India where many of them were sold to brothel-operators. On 
March 29 and 30, a cluster of non-Bengali hutments in the Ramnagar 
colony was burnt to ashes by the rebel Bengali soldiers and Awami League 
hoodlums. More than 150 non-Bengalis, including some escapees from the 
neighbouring Jhumjhumpur locality, perished in the conflagration. 

There were very few survivors amongst the 4,500 non-Bengali who 
lived in the Taraganj colony after the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles 
and the Awami League storm troopers had made it the target of their 
genocide on March 30. At least a thousand non-Bengalis were slaughtered 
by the Bengali rebels between March 26 and April 5 in the Hamidpur, 
Ambagaon, Bachachar and Puratan Qasba localities of Jessore town. 

In the neighbouring shanty townships of Mobarakganj, Kaliganj, 
Kotchandpur and Tasfidanga, non-Bengali houses were marked for attack 
in the first fortnight of March by Awami League militants and the carnage 
of non-Bengalis were conducted in the last days of the month. The death 

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toll in these localities exceeded 1,500. 

Two British newsmen, Alan Hart of the BBC and Nicholas 
Tomalin of the Sunday Times, London, visited Jessore early in April 1971 
when the town was under the control of the Awami League gunmen and 
the Bengali rebel soldiers. With them was a Bengali photographer, 
Mohammed Amin. Escorted by the armed volunteers of the Awami 
League, the two British newsmen accidentally witnessed the slaying of the 
hapless non-Bengalis by their blood-thirsty captors in the vicinity of the 
Area Headquarters of the Bengali rebels in Jessore. In a Jessore despatch 
published in the Sunday Times, of April 4, 1971, Nicholas Tomalin 
reported: 

" I was there with Alan Hart of BBC Panorama and a Bengali- 
speaking photographer, Mohammed Amin. We thought the troops 
and local citizens were about to attack but they then got other ideas. 
Among each contingent arriving at the HQ were tall, usually 
bearded Punjabis. Their hands were tied and they were being 
brutally pushed along by rifle-butts 

"We thought the West Pakistan soldiers were attacking and we 
scattered similarly, only to discover, on a grass patch beside the 
road, men freshly stabbed and bludgeoned, lying in still flowing 
pools of blood. Four of them were still just alive, rolling over and 
waving their legs and arms. But none of them made any noise. At 
this moment our Awami League guide became hysterical and tried 
to rush us back. He said it was not safe, the West Pakistanis were 
attacking. He tugged us away from the bodies. But suddenly, Alan 
Hart, myself and Mohammed (Amin) realised who these dead and 
dying men were. They were not Bengalis; they were, we are 
convinced, the Punjabi prisoners we had seen, bound and under 
guard, an hour before. 

"The victims could not have been killed by anyone but local 
Bengali irregulars as these were the only people in Central Jessore 
that day. The terror and behaviour of the Awami (League) 
politicians and the crowd is circumstantial evidence, and our 
photographer, Amin, who knows his Pakistani types, is certain the 
victims were Punjabis 



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"Even as the locals began to threaten us and we were forced to 
drive away, we saw another 40 Punjabi 'spies' being marched 
towards that same grass plot with their hands above their heads." 

Another British newspaper, the Daily Mail of London, published the 
olio wing write-up from Brian Rimmer in its issue of April 3, 1971 on the 
slaying of the Punjabi traders: 

"The merchants — pictured here by a BBC Panorama team which 
reached Jessore — were rounded up, roped together and marched off 
by Militia men. Shortly after, Western reporters came across their 
bodies. They had been battered and stabbed. One man still writhed 
in his death agony 

Malcom Browne of the New York Times, who visited Jessore a month 
after the Pakistan Army had regained control over it, said in a despatch 
published on May 9, 1971: 

"The night of special horror for Jessore was April 4, four days after 
the local East Bengal Regiment had revolted against the national 
army 

"Jessore and Khulna are among the most heavily damaged towns in 
East Pakistan. Many market areas and buildings are burned out; the 

streets deserted 

"Throughout the tour, Government authorities and persons 
produced for interview have told of thousands of non-Bengali 
residents, including women and children, having been slain by the 
separatists, often after having been tortured " 

Mohammed Zubair, 57, a trader, who lived in Block N in the Satellite 
town in Jessore, had this sad recollection of the dreadful Ides of March, 
1971: 

"All through March 1971, the non-Bengalis lived in panic and fear 
in Jessore. The explosion came in the last days of the month when 
the Awami League killers and the rebels from the East Pakistan 
Rifles and the police went on the rampage in the Bihari-inhabited 
localities of the town. The rebels had barricaded the access road 
from the town to the military cantonment to prevent food supplies 
to the West Pakistani soldiers. They had also blown up the main 

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water pipeline from the town to the cantonment 

"Some non-Bengali young men, who had friends amongst the West 
Pakistani soldiers in the cantonment, stuffed food inside a truck and 
headed for the cantonment. Armed with shot guns, they tried to 
blast their way through the barricades and the gunfire of the 
Bengali rebels. But the numerically- superior rebels wiped out the 
non-Bengali relief squad on the fringes of the cantonment. A dozen 
non-Bengali young men perished in this desperate bid to break the 
Bengali blockade of the cantonment. Their dead bodies were 
dumped in a nearby stream. 

"As some of these non-Bengali boys hailed from middle class 
families who lived in the Satellite town of Jessore, hundreds of 
insurgents raided this locality on March 28-29 and committed acts 
of unimaginable savagery. They looted and burnt the houses of 
non-Bengalis and killed them by the thousands. Hundreds of 
teenage girls were molested and kidnapped 

"They looted my house; they slaughtered my three grown up sons 
and they kidnapped my two young daughters. One of the raiders 
stabbed me in the shoulder and I collapsed in a pool of blood. The 
murderer thought I was dead. A part of my house was burnt; I hid 
myself for almost a week in the backyard. After the Pakistan Army 
freed Jessore from rebel control, I buried my dead sons. I scoured 
every inch of Jessore in search of my young daughters. There was 
no trace of them " 



Mohammed Zubair was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi in 

January, 1974. 

Twenty-one year-old Tahera Begum who was widowed in Jessore 

when a posse of the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles bludgeoned her 

husband to death on March 29, 1971, sobbed out her story of woe as 

follows: 

"We lived in the Ramnagar colony of Jessore. We hailed from 
Calcutta. Although Urdu was our mother tongue, my husband and I 
spoke Bengali very well. Almost all the residents in the Ramnagar 
colony were non-Bengalis. My husband, Amjad Ali was a well-to- 

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do businessman and an active social worker. Since the beginning of 
March, when tension gripped Jessore, my husband used to appeal to 
Bengalis and non-Bengalis to live in amity and accord 

"In the evening of March 29, he told me that he was going to attend 
a meeting of the Peace Committee wherein representatives of 
Bengalis and non-Bengalis will take an oath to protect one another 
like true Muslim brethren. Although I was apprehensive, I 
encouraged him to go to the Union Committee Hall for the Peace 
Committee's meeting. When he arrived there, he found that the 
Bengali members of the Committee were absent. He and his non- 
Bengali associates waited in vain for an hour and then walked back 
to our house. He apprehended an attack by the Bengali insurgents 
on our locality but we had no weapons. A sincere and kind-hearted 
Bengali friend, Mohammed Mahmood, suggested that we shift to 
his house for safety but my husband preferred to stay in our own 
house 

"Late in the night of March 29, about 500 Bengali insurgents and 
Awami Leaguers, many blazing their automatic weapons and 
tossing hand grenades on houses, raided the Ramnagar Colony on a 
"loot, kill and burn" mission. They encircled our locality and 
murdered every adult male. My husband appealed to the killer gang 
to spare the lives of innocent people; a rebel Bengali soldier gunned 
nim to death. His dead body was carted away in a truck by the killer 
gang and flung into a ditch which was turned into a mass grave. I 
lived for some days with a Bengali family in our neighbourhood; in 
mid April, I went to live with my parents in Dacca. In January 
1974, the United Nations repatriated me to Pakistan." 

Tahera Begum said that hundreds of teenage girls were kidnapped 
from non-Bengali homes by the rebels; many were raped and some were 
taken away to India by their retreating Bengali captors. 



Twenty-two-year-old Anjuman Begum who, along with her 
husband, Qaiser Hussain, miraculously escaped the massacre of non- 
Bengalis on March 28, 1971, in the Tafsidanga colony in Jessore, had this 
bitter memory of that nightmarish period: 

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"We lived in a hut in Paikgacha in Tafsidanga. It was nick named 
as 'Bihari Para'. Most of the inhabitants in this shanty township 
were of the low-income group. My husband peddled merchandise. 
Our relations with the Bengalis in our neighbourhood were 
friendly. We never had a riot in our colony 

"Late in March 1971, a mob of Awami Leaguers and some 
hoodlums raided our locality and set fire to our thatched huts. In a 
few minutes the entire locality was aflame. As the inmates rushed 
out of their burning huts, a barrage of gunfire mowed hundreds of 
innocent men, women and children. The killer gang also burnt the 
only mosque in our colony. 

"My husband and I escaped from our burning hut into a nearby 
paddy field. We lay still there all through the night. We heard the 
crackle of gunfire, the groans of dying men and the shrieks of 
women assaulted by their kidnappers. Just before sunrise we 
crawled to a hut where an aged Bengali farmer lived. We had 
known him as a kind soul. He gave us shelter and we lived with 
him until the Pakistan Army freed Jessore. 

"When we returned to our old locality, we saw the rubble and the 
decomposed bodies of slain non-Bengalis. The Army arranged their 
mass burial " 



Anjuman Begum and her husband went to Dacca in the autumn of 

1971. In January 1974, they were airlifted to Karachi. 

Qurban Ali, 51, who lived in Ramnagar colony of Jessore and 

owned a provision store, said: 

"Non-Bengalis in Jessore felt insecure after the Awami League's 
victory in the December 1970 elections. Many were subjected to 
taunts and insults by the Awami Leaguers. In March 1971, the 
Awami Leaguers and some Hindu Bengali infiltrators from India 
incited the local Bengalis against the non-Bengalis. The Bengalis in 
the East Bengal Regiment, the East Pakistan Rifles, the Ansars (a 
police force) and the Awami Leaguers drew up plans for liquidating 
the non-Bengalis in Jessore. They blockaded the cantonment and 

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some West Pakistani officers and men were ambushed and killed in 
mid-March. Shooting incidents took place in the localities where 
the non-Bengalis lived. 

"On March 29, hundreds of armed miscreants raided the Ramnagar 
colony and slaughtered thousands of non-Bengali men and male 
children. Hundreds of non-Bengali women were assaulted, killed or 
kidnapped. For two days, the Bengali insurgents staged the 
bloodbath of non-Bengalis in Ramnagar. I was injured and I lay in a 
heap of slain men. I wriggled out of it at night and hid in a deserted 
school building. My daughter was killed but my son-in-law escaped 
and he is still in East Pakistan " 



In Februray 1974, Qurban Ali was repatriated by the United 
Nations from Chittagong to Karachi. 

A hundred non-Bengali families lived in Mobarakganj. On March 
29, 1971, the Bengali insurgents invaded the township and exterminated 
almost all the non-Bengali male adults. The pogrom continued for eight 
days. More than 200 non-Bengalis were killed. Nearly a hundred young 
women were kidnapped; many were raped. Those who resisted the 
attempts of their kidnappers to take them to India were liquidated. 

The male non-Bengali population in the Kaliganj, according to the 
witnesses from Jessore, was wiped out by the insurgents in the last week of 
March and the first week of April 1971 before the killers fled to India. 
Even small children were done to death and their young mothers were 
kidnapped; many were raped. After the rebels fled to India, some dead 
bodies of teenage girls whose breasts had been slashed off were found in 
deserted houses. The insurgents had set up chambers where mass sex 
assaults on young, non-Bengali women captives were conducted. At least 
300 non-Bengalis died in the massacre in Kaliganj. 

In Kotchandpur, killer gangs of rebel soldiers and Awami Leaguers 
slaughtered more than 850 non-Bengali men, women and children. There 
were very few survivors. In Tafsidanga, the non-Bengali death toll was in 
the neighbourhood of 300. In the middle of March 1971, Awami League 
militants and jingoes of a Bengali front organization, 'Sangram Parishad', 
started terrorising the residents of this colony. They marked the non- 
Bengali houses. The "kill" was accomplished in two days of loot, arson 
and murder on March 30 and 31. There were not more than two score 

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survivors. 

One of the witnesses recalled the gory murder of a Punjabi 
lieutenant of the Pakistan Army on March 14. He had come to town from 
the cantonment to visit an ailing friend. On the way back, a group of 
Awami League thugs ambushed him and shot him dead. In the last week of 
March, many West Pakistani soldiers were shanghaied by the Bengali 
mutineers near the cantonment. In the first week of April, scores of 
Punjabis, who were detained by the insurgents in prisons and police lock- 
ups, were killed by firing squads in paddy fields which were used as 
execution grounds. 

KOTCHANDPUR 

Ghulam Warsi, 35, who lived in the Bara Bazar in Kotchandpur in 
Jessore district and whose wife was killed and teenage daughter was 
kidnapped by a gang of armed Awami Leaguers in March 1971, said: 

"I have become prematurely old because of the woes and 
misfortunes which ruined my life in March 1971. I was a cloth 
merchant and we lived in some measure of affluence. I had many 
Bengali friends. We had lived in Kotchandpur for many years and I 
spoke Bengali very well. About a thousand non-Bengalis lived in 
this small town. Many were immigrants from Bihar and Uttar 
Pradesh in India; some hailed from West Pakistan 



"The non-Bengalis were aware of the fact that some 
ultranationalistic Bengalis amongst the Awami Leaguers were 
inciting the local population against the non-Bengalis. On March 
28, when I was in my cloth shop, I got the frightening news that a 
large mob of armed Awami Leaguers had attacked the residential 
locality where my house and those of hundreds of other non- 
Bengalis were located. I closed my shop and I ran towards my 
house. It was with great difficulty that I reached it through a back 
lane to avoid the killer mob. My house was amongst the score of 
houses that were set ablaze. Unmindful of the lurid tongues of fire, 
I rushed inside and retrieved my three little sons. My wife had been 
shot and lay in a pool of blood. There was no trace of my teenage 
daughter. My children told me that the killers had shot dead my 

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wife because she courageously resisted them when they grabbed 
my daughter. After the Pakistan Army re-established its control 
over Kotchandpur, I travelled all over Jessore district in search of 
my kidnapped daughter; I could not find her. The killers wiped out 
a smiling colony of more than 1,000 non-Bengalis in two days. 
They kidnapped some 80 teenage girls " 



Ghulam Warsi moved to Dacca with his three small children in 
mid- 1971 and was repatriated to Karachi in February 1974. In his prayers, 
he entreats the Almighty to reunite him with his missing daughter. "I am 
sure my prayer will be answered someday", he said hopefully. 

On April 4, rebel troops from the East Bengal Regiment killed 
Italian Priest, Reverend Mario Veronesi, in the Christian Fatima Catholic 
Hospital in Jessore. Indian propagandists and their Awami League proteges 
blamed the Pakistan Army for his slaying. 

When the Italian Ambassador in Pakistan visited the Roman 
Catholic Mission in Jessore to investigate the circumstances of Father 
Veronesi' s death, the military authorities explained and offered evidence to 
prove that the Italian Priest was killed by the Bengali rebels and not by the 
federal Army. 

Facts show that Jessore was under the control of the Bengali rebels 
from the East Bengal Regiment on April 4 when two insurgent soldiers, 
toting stcn guns, broke into the premises of the Roman Catholic Hospital 
and gunned him to death. He was not wearing a cassock at the time of his 
slaying. Having lived in East Pakistan for some 18 years, his face was 
slightly bronzed and he could have passed for a Pathan from the North 
West Frontier of Pakistan. The Bengali rebel soldiers obviously mistook 
him for a West Pakistani — he had no robes of priesthood on — and shot 
him dead, just as they had been gunning to death West Pakistanis and other 
non-Bengalis by the thousands in Jessore late in March and early in April 
1971. 

Eye-witnesses of the March- April 1971 killings of non-Bengalis in 
Jessore, who were interviewed for this book in Karachi, maintained that 
their information was that the Bengali rebel soldiers had killed Father 
Veronesi and four others in the Roman Catholic Hospital. The 56-year-old 
Italian priest was buried in the Hospital ground. 

It was also revealed by these eye-witnesses that a large number of 
infiltrators from India had seeped into the Jessore district to assist the 

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Bengali rebels in sabotage and terrorisation. Maurice Quaintance of the 
Reuters News Agency who visited Jessore on May 8, 1971, along with five 
other foreign newsmen, quoted the Area Commander as having said that 
"in the battle for the town, the secessionists were helped by two companies 
of the Indian Border Security troops sent into the Jessore area." 
Logistically, this was easy enough because of Jessore' s proximity to the 
Indian border. Indian deployment of troops along the India-East Pakistan 
border at that time was in excess of 100,000 men. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE 

Suffering in Narail 

Narail is a small town in the Jessorc district. All through March 
1971 it was rocked by the tremors of the Awami League's uprising. Not 
more than a thousand non-Bengalis lived in this town. Between March 25 
and April 6, some 800 of them were liquidated by the armed Awami 
leaguers and the Bengali rebel soldiers. The most gruesome massacre was 
of nearly seventy Pathans — men, women and children. 

Thirty-five-year-old Ghafoor Ahmed, who was employed in a 
trading firm in Narail, and his wife and two children luckily escaped the 
slaughter of non-Bengalis in the town and its neighbourhood. They owed 
their lives to a courageous Bengali friend who sheltered them in his house 
at great risk to himself and arranged their escape to Dacca. Early in January 
1974, the United Nations airlift brought them to Karachi. Ghafoor Ahmed 
said: 



"I had lived in Narail for 15 years. I had bought a plot of land in 
Molvipara and erected a mudhouse on it. I liked the Bengali 
Muslims and I had many friends amongst them. Close to our 
locality was a Hindu temple. Many Hindus lived in its vicinity. Our 
relations with them were not too happy. They disliked the non- 
Bengali Muslim immigrants from India. 

"In the last week of March 1971, local Awami Leaguers, Hindu 
militants and rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles ganged up against 
the non-Bengalis and went on a genocidal spree. On March 29-31, a 
killer gang attacked non-Bengali houses and killed men, women 
and children by the hundreds 

"Two days before the massacre started, a religious Bengali Muslim 
friend persuaded me to leave my house and stay in his home. He 
said that the rebels were planning the slaughter of the non-Bengalis. 
He hid me and my wife and my children in his house in the 
outskirts of Narail. On the day of the carnage — March 29 — in our 
locality, the Bengali rebels looted and burnt my house. They also 
killed a number of Islam-loving Bengalis who had sided with the 

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Muslim League and the Jamaat-e-Islami in the 1970 general 
elections. The killer gang inflicted heinous tortures on a respected 
local leader, Mohammed Imamuddin before murdering him and his 
family often." 

After the Pakistan Army recovered Narail from the Bengali 
insurgents, added Ghafoor Ahmed, the rebels and many of the local 
Hindus, who had participated in the slaughter of non-Bengalis and pro- 
Pakistan Bengali Muslims, fled to India. It took many days before all the 
rotting dead bodies were interred in mass graves. The rebels had thrown 
many scores of wounded men into blazing houses; their charred skeletons 
were discovered after the federal troops cleared the rubble. 

Bashir Ahmed, 31, who owned a shop in the Mujgunni locality of 
Narail and who escaped death because of his excellent command of 
Bengali language, gave this account of the March 1971 tragedy after he 
was repatriated to Karachi in January, 1974: 

"I had lived for many years in Jessore. After the death of my father, 
my wife and my in-laws persuaded me to shift to Narail. I spoke 
Bengali so well that I easily passed for a genuine Bengali. I owned 
a small shop in the Mujganni locality. I had friendly relations with 
my non-Bengali as well as Bengali neighbours. In the third week of 
March, Narail came under the grip of tension and the non-Bengalis 
felt panicky. On March 26, I went to the main Bazar and consulted 
a Bengali friend who owned a bicycle shop. He told me that the 
Awami leaguers and some Bengali Hindus were spreading rumours 
against the non-Bengalis and were inciting the Bengalis to kill 
them. He suspected that Indian agents had infiltrated into Narail 
from West Bengal in India. He advised me to shift my family for a 
few days to the house of a common Bengali friend on the outworks 
of Narail. I acted on his advice 



"On March 29, on the way to my house, I saw a frenzied Bengali 
mob lynching two non-Bengali young men. They clouted their 
victims with spears and iron bars and hacked them to death. 
Another mob of heavily armed Bengalis, some blazing away their 
guns to strike fear, attacked the houses of the non-Bengalis en 
masse. They mistook me for a Bengali and I escaped to the hideout 

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in my Bengali friend's home. That night, the bulk of the population 
of non-Bengalis in my locality was wiped out and their houses 
were looted and burnt " 

Abdul Sattar, 26, who, along with his wife and two children, 
survived the March 1971 butchery in Narail was repatriated from Dacca to 
Karachi in January 1974. He gave the following account of his dramatic 
escape and of the killings in Narail: 

"I was employed in a commercial firm in Narail. We lived in the 
Sonadanga locality of the town. In the middle of March 1971, my 
wife and my two children went to participate in the wedding of a 
relative in neighbouring Jessore. In the absence of my family, I 
used to eat at the house of a very dear Bengali friend. 

"Around March 28, my Bengali friend rushed to my house at night 
and implored me to shift to his home at once because the rebels 
from the East Pakistan Rifles and the armed Awami League 
militants had decided to murder all the non-Bengalis. I 
accompanied him to his house and lived with him until the federal 
army liberated Narail. When I went back to my house, it was a 
burnt out rubble. Dead bodies lay in heaps in many houses; a few 
dogs and cats sniffed the dead and licked the dried blood on their 
bodies. I saw a few decrepit old men and women and knee-high 
children rummaging in the rubble for their deceased dear ones. 
There were hardly any adult survivors of this genocidal fury." 

Sattar retrieved his wife and children from Jessore in the middle of April 
1971, soon after the federal army re-established its control. A Bengali 
friend of Sattar had sheltered them in his house. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 

Decimation in Bejardanga, Jhenidah 

The Railway Station at Bejerdanga, a small town in the Jessore 
district, saw the massacre of the non-Bengali employees by a roving band 
of armed Awami Leaguers and the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles on 
March 20-21, 1971. 

Twenty- year-old Muzaffar Ali, whose father, Masroor Ali, worked 
as the Assistant Station Master at Bejerdanga, gave this account of the 
murder of his father: 

"Since the second week of March 1971, the non-Bengali Railway 
employees at Bejerdanga were subjected to threats and insults by 
Awami League activists. They continued working at the Railway 
Station despite these threats. As their number was small, they had 
sent away their families to their relatives in Jessore and Khulna. My 
mother and I went to live with an uncle in Jessore. My father was 
very conscientious and refused to be absent from his duty 

"On March 20, a gang of 40 armed Awami Leaguers and rebel 
soldiers attacked the Bejerdanga Railway Station. They dismantled 
a part of the rail track; they ransacked the Station. They lined up the 
non-Bengali staff and gunned them to death. 

"We got the news of his murder after the Pakistan Army recovered 
Jessore and Bejerdanga. There was no trace of his dead body. Our 
own escape from the rebels' butchery in Jessore was an act of 
God " 



Muzaffar Ali and his mother were repatriated to Karachi from Dacca in 
mid-January 1974. 

JHENIDAH 

Awami League gunmen and rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles 
carried death and destruction to non-Bengali homes in many parts of the 
Jhenidah sub-division of the Jessore district. 

The killings in Jhenidah and its neighbourhood started on March 24 
and continued with unabated fury till April 14, 1971 when a column of the 

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Pakistan Army routed the rebels. The mode of butchery in Jhenidah was 
similar to the practice of savagery followed in Jessore and Narail for 
liquidating the non-Bengalis. The non-Bengali death toll in Jhenidah sub- 
division was estimated at well over 550. More than 50 non-Bengali young 
women were kidnapped. Some were raped in the open in paddy fields and 
strangled to death. 

"On March 7, 1971, more than ten thousand Bengali demonstrators 
forced their way into the Jhenidah Cadet College, shouting slogans against 
the Pakistan Government and non-Bengalis and demanding independence 
for East Pakistan", said 19-year-old Syed Hasan Javed, who was a student 
at the Jhenidah Cadet College. Repatriated to Karachi with his parents late 
in 1971, Javed is currently a B.A. (Honours) student at the Karachi 
University. In his testimony, Javed said: 

"Tension gripped the Cadet College and its hostels soon after 
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's broadcast speech on March 3, 1971, in 
which he hurled defiance at the federal government. Out of 251 
students who lived in the three hostels of the Cadet College, Urdu- 
speaking students numbered 25. The Bengalis called them Biharis. 
On March 7, 1971, the Awami League-led demonstrators, many 
armed with guns, broke into the College premises and shouted 
slogans against Pakistan and the Biharis. The Principal, sensing 
trouble, asked all the students to join the processionists and not to 
tangle with the demonstrators. The processionists marched to the 
"Shahecd Minar" (Memorial for those killed in the Bengali 
language movement in the early 1950' s) where they took the oath 
that they would establish independent Bengal. The next day the 
situation became more tense and the non-Bengalis in the town felt 
scared because of the threats of violence from the Awami League 
militants. On March 9, the Principal ordered the closure of the 
Cadet College and asked the hostel inmates to return to their 
homes. My parents lived in Khulna, 68 miles away. I set out for 
Khulna; the roads were deserted and echoes of rifle shots were 
sometimes heard. With great difficulty, I reached my home in 
Khalispur in Khulna. My mother, who had cried for days and lost 
hope of seeing me alive, embraced me and said thanksgiving 
prayers to Almighty God." 



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Javed, in his testimony, reported that on March 10,1971, he saw in 
Khalispur the tortures inflicted on a Pathan watchman by an armed group 
of pro-Awami league students on the roadside. The victim died on the spot. 
On March 17, 1971, according to Javed, a group of pro-Awami League 
hoodlums raided the house of his Punjabi neighbour, killed him and 
kidnapped his two teenage daughters. Three days later, he spotted their 
dead bodies floating in a nearby water tank. Javed recalled the attack of the 
Bengali rebels, particularly the defectors from the East Bengal Regiment 
and the East Pakistan Rifles, on March 28, 1971, on Khalispur and the 
defence put up by bands of armed non-Bengalis who had not surrendered 
their weapons in response to the Awami League-propped administration' s 
call in mid-March for the surrender of arms. Subsequently, the federal 
troops routed the rebels. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE 

Bloodbath in Noapara, Darsona 

Noapara, a little town in the Jcssore district, felt the repercussions 
of the Awami League's rebellion in the second week of March 1971. It had 
a small population of non-Bengalis; many were employed in the local jute 
mill or did business with it. As the owner of the jute mill was a non- 
Bengali, it became a target of the homicidal frenzy of the Bengali rebels. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Sheikh Aziz, who was employed as a 
Security Guard in the Jute Mill, witnessed the massacre of the non-Bengali 
staff and their families in the Mill area on March 21, 1971. His uncle was 
butchered but his wife and children were spared. He made a dramatic 
escape with them to Dacca from where he brought them to Karachi via 
Nepal in March 1973. His narrative runs as follows: 

"I was one of the six non-Bengali Security Guards in the Carpeting 
Jute Mill in Noapara. The other 13 Security Guards were Bengalis. 
The Chief Security Officer was a gentle-hearted and God-fearing 
non-Bengali, Mr. Farid Ahmed. His wife was a Bengali. He had 
given employment in the mill to a number of Bengali young 
men 



"On March 21, a gang of armed Awami League militants stormed 
the Jute mill. They enlisted the support of some of the Bengali 
millhands who had a propensity for agitation and strikes. The first 
victim of their insane fury was the Security Officer, Farid Ahmed. 
They belaboured him in his office; they dragged him to the lawn in 
the Mill. They clubbed him with staves; they hit him with iron bars. 
A Bengali security guard, whom he had employed some years ago, 
shot him dead. As the killers had seized control of the Mill and 
locked up the main gate, there was no escape for the non-Bengali 
staff which was in imminent danger of liquidation. The homicidal 
gang murdered almost all the non-Bengalis in the mill premises. I 
hid myself in a store room for two days. My uncle was amongst 
those who were slaughtered 

"The killer gang then turned on the families of the non-Bengali 

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staff of the mill who lived in mud-houses and huts nearby. All the 
male adults were butchered; young women were raped and many 
were kidnapped. My slain uncle's wife and two children were 
miraculously saved and I brought them to Pakistan " 

Twenty- year-old Husna Begum, highly articulate for her age 
whose father, Taher Hussain, was engaged in the Jute trade in Noapara, 
owed her life to a Bengali friend of her maternal uncle. He sheltered her 
and her mother all through the period of turmoil in the town and helped 
them in moving to Chittagong after the Pakistan Army routed the rebels. 
Husna, a student, and her mother were repatriated to Karachi from 
Chittagong by the United Nations by sea early in February 1974. She 
sobbed out the story of her father's murder: 

"My father hailed from the Indian State of Bihar and he had settled 
in Narail late in the 1950' s. I was born in Narail. Although we 
spoke Urdu at home, I went to a school where Bengali was the 
medium of instruction. I spoke Bengali like my Bengali classmates. 
I was not taught Urdu at school and I don't know how to read or 
write in Urdu. 

"On March 22, 1971, a killer gang of Awami League thugs raided 
my father's jute godown and set it on fire. They tossed him inside 
this blazing oven. They raided our house and ran sacked it like 
ruthless vandals. They looked for me and my mother but we were 
sheltered safely in our Bengali friend's house. The news of my 
father's tragic death reached us the next day 

"The house of a non-Bengali businessman in the vicinity of our 
hideout was attacked by a killer gang. I heard the echo of gunshots 
and the screams of men and women for mercy. The attackers killed 
the businessman and his wife and raped his three daughters. They 
marched the three girls almost in the nude through the main Bazar 
of Noapara and hacked them to death in a paddy field. A Bengali 
friend of my protector, who had witnessed this horrifying scene, 
burst into tears as he related to him the harrowing details " 



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DARSANA 

The non-Bengalis in the town of Darsana were terrorised by the Awami 
League militants since the first week of March 1971. The population of 
non-Bengalis in Darsana was not large but all of them were fairly affluent. 
Many worked in the East Pakistan Railway. Between the 20 th of March and 
the 19 th of April 1971, the Awami Leaguers and the rebels of the East 
Pakistan Rifles liquidated almost three-fourth of the non-Bengali 
population in this town. Killer gangs raided non-Bengali houses, looted 
them and killed all the menfolk. Non-Bengali teenage girls were kidnapped 
by the rebels by the hundred; almost all of them were raped in buildings 
occupied by the rebels as their operational headquarters. Before the rebels 
escaped to neighbouring India, they killed many of the non-Bengali girls 
they had raped; some were taken away to India. 

Fifty-year-old Madina Khatoon, whose husband, Abdul Hamid 
was a Railway employee in Darsana, said in Karachi after her repatriation 
from a Bihari Camp in Chittagong in February 1974: 

"On March 25, the Bengali rebels went on the rampage against the 
non-Bengalis in Darsana. A killer gang came to my house, smashed 
the front door and forcibly took away my husband and my brother. 
I begged them to spare my dear ones; one of them shouted back: 
"The Biharis have no place in Bengal; they must be slaughtered." 
The killer gang looted every article of value — even the rice I had 
kept for our meals. I learnt that the killers murdered my husband 
and my brother in the slaughter-house set up by the rebels 

"The killer gangs burnt almost half the number of non-Bengali 
houses in Darsana. They did not spare even disabled non-Bengali 
men. The rebels extorted money from the non-Bengali businessmen 
by promising to get their lives spared. They played many other 
frauds on the non-Bengalis. In planning the butchery they 
conducted, an interesting element was the manner in which they 
kept track of every non-Bengali male. The rebel command used to 
get very prompt information about successful or unsuccessful 

escape bids by the non-Bengalis in Darsana Between March 

15 and the second week of April, the rebels staged frequent 



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bloodbaths of innocent non-Bengalis, and their dead bodies lay in 
heaps in Mosques, school buildings and the local hospital " 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX 

Destruction in Barisal 



The Awami League's rebellion had injected a severe strain in the 
relations between Bengalis and non-Bengalis in many parts of the Barisal 
District from the second week of March 1971. The proliferation of baseless 
rumours that the Bengalis in West Pakistan were being killed and that the 
Pakistan Army had massacred Bengalis in Dacca was one of the weapons 
used by the Awami League activists for inciting the Bengali population to 
violence against the West Pakistanis and other non-Bengalis. In the 
beginning, there were stray incidents of violence against the non-Bengalis 
but in the fourth week of March there was a forest-fire of arson, loot and 
murder in Barisal town and in other parts of the district. The death toll in 
this genocidal epidemic was in excess of 15,000. 

Ahmed Alam, 23, who was repatriated to Karachi in October 1973 
from Dacca, lived in Barisal all through the period of turmoil. He gave a 
vivid account of the extermination of some sixty non-Bengali families in 
the vicinity of the Barisal Steamer Jetty in the night of March 25, 1971: 

"The Awami League militants of the area invited the non-Bengali 
residents of this locality to attend a meeting of the local Peace 
Committee and assured them that their families would be protected. 
The meeting was held at about 9 o'clock in the night. All of a 
sudden, the Awami League militants, who carried weapons, 
pounced on the non-Bengalis in the meeting and killed many on the 
spot. Some non-Bengali; escaped the dragnet and ran to their huts 
to take their families to safety 

"Just before midnight, a frenzied mob of Awami Leaguers, police 
rebels and hoodlums attacked the non-Bengali colony and burnt 
dozens of houses. They murdered almost all the adult males, 
kidnapped some fifty women and raped many of them. The federal 
troops, who reached the site after some days, recovered 112 dead 
bodies from the rubble of the burnt out non-Bengali colony. Many 
bodies of strangled women were discovered in a pond. No trace of 
other kidnapped non-Bengali women could be found. The survivors 
of this pogrom numbered barely a dozen " 

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Twenty- seven- year- old Farzana Khatoon, whose husband was 
employed in the Postal Department in the Ferozepur sub-division of 
Barisal district, narrated the murder of her husband by an Awami League 
killer gang in a motor launch in the third week of March 1971: 

"We had lived for six years in the Ferozepur sub-division. Our 
relations with our Bengali neighbours were cordial but after the 
December 1970 general elections a little strain had crept in. From 
the beginning of March 1971, the non-Bengalis in our town were 
apprehensive and uneasy. Some non-Bengali boys were roughed up 
by Awami League militants 

"On March 20, my husband and I decided to leave Ferozepur and 
we boarded a Khulna-bound passenger launch at night It was jam- 
packed. Amongst the passengers were some sixty non-Bengalis — 
men, women and children — who were leaving the town because of 
insecurity and fear. We knew some of them 

After two hours, when the launch anchored at a small jetty, a gang 
of fifty armed miscreants, shouting 'Joi Bangla' and 'Long Live 
Awami League', greeted our launch. A dozen of them, armed with 
guns and daggers, boarded our launch. They roughed up some non- 
Bengalis; they pulled the Saris of young women. The killers barked 
out the order that all the Bengalis should leave the launch; it 
became easy for them to make mincemeat of the non-Bengalis. 
They slaughtered all the non-Bengali men on board the launch; they 
tossed children into the river. As their desperate mothers jumped 
into the water to rescue them, the killers opened fire on these 
drowning women and children. The thugs kidnapped some teenage 
non-Bengali girls. My husband was amongst the dead. The Serang 
(Captain) of the launch, a gentle Bengali who had known my 
husband, took pity on me and my little son and hid us under a 
bundle of mats in his cabin. He dropped us at Khulna where I 
stayed with some relatives for a few months and escaped the 
carnage there. I sold my ornaments and raised some cash which 
enabled me and my son to travel to Nepal. It was a perilous and 
tortuous journey. In July 1973, we were flown to Karachi." 

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Abdul Shakoor, 50, whose Bengali wife and two sons were 
murdered by an Awami League gang in Kurmitala in Jhalokathi in the 
Barisal district in March 1971, testified: 

"I had migrated from Bihar to East Pakistan shortly after the birth 
of Pakistan in 1947. I had attended meetings addressed by Molvi 
Fazlul Haq, Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Mr. Nurul 
Amin and Maulana Tamizuddin in pre-Partition Bengal, I believed 
in the ideology of Pakistan. Shortly after I came to East Pakistan, I 
married a Bengali girl. I started a small business and I prospered. I 
had excellent relations with the Bengalis and I spoke their language 
nearly as well as my Bengali wife. We had two sons and a daughter 
who were Bengalis by birth; their mother tongue was 
Bengali 

"Since the first week of March 1971, our town was affected by the 
Awami League's rebellion and relations between the Bengalis and 
the non-Bengalis were tense. On March 24, a mob of Awami 
League activists and rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles and 
Ansars (a para-military force) went on the rampage in the localities 
where non-Bengali families resided. They dragged my two sons 
from our home, tied them with ropes to a lamp post and gunned 
them to death. They kidnapped my daughter and I scoured the 
district for months in a fruitless search for her. They clouted me and 
my wife with their rifle butts but some kind Bengali neighbours 
persuaded the killers to spare us. My wife could not tear the loss of 
our teenage sons and daughter and she died in April, 1971, At least 
250 non-Bengalis were massacred in March, 1971 and scores of 
teenage girls were kidnapped. What madness gripped our 
tormentors is beyond my comprehension. I had never seen such 
insanity before. I shifted to Chittagong from where the United 
Nations repatriated me to Karachi in February 1974." 

Nasrin, the 24-year-old widow of Allah Rakha, had this 
recollection of the massacre of non-Bengalis in Jhalokathi in the Barisal 
district in March 1971: 



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"Tension -was smouldering in our little town since the beginning of 
March 1971. We heard rumours that the Awami Leaguers were 
planning the murder of the non-Bengalis. My husband was 
employed as a watchman in a local trading firm 

"On March 19, the lava of violence against the non-Bengalis 
erupted. Nearly a thousand non-Bengalis lived in our town; most of 
the menfolk were slaughtered. A killer gang broke into our house at 
night and shot my husband and my two little sons. One of the 
raiders assaulted me; I wish they had killed me. They tore up my 
Sari and forced me at gunpoint to walk with them. In the main 
Bazar I saw dozens of young non-Bengali women with tattered 
clothes. Seme of them were almost naked. Our tormentors paraded 
us in the town and told us that we would be their slaves. A few 
girls, who tried to run away or jump into a well, were quickly 
gunned to death.... 

"A middle-aged Bengali, who was in the crowd, took pity on me 
and persuaded his associates to let him take me to his home. I need 
a maid-servant, he said. He was an angel; on the very first day he 
told me before his mother that he would treat me like his real sister. 
He kept his word all through the 14 days I lived in his house and 
cooked food for him. After the Pakistan Army routed the rebels, I 
located my sister and my brother-in-law who took care of me. In 
February 1974, I was repatriated by ship from Chittagong to 
Karachi." 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN 

Genocide in Mymensingh 

Mymensingh witnessed a horrifying massacre of non-Bengalis by 
the Awami League militants and the mutineers of the East Bengal 
Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles between the third week of March 
and the third week of April 1971 when the Pakistan Army freed it from the 
control of the insurgents. Evidence now available shows that more than 
20,000 non-Bengalis were done to death. In the Mymensingh Cantonment, 
Bengali soldiers of the East Bengal Regiment of the Pakistan Army and the 
para-military East Pakistan Rifles revolted on March 26-27, 1971 and 
slaughtered hundreds of West Pakistani officers and men in a midnight 
surprise attack on their Barracks and residential quarters for married 
military personnel. They made even women and children the victims of 
their bloodlust. 

On April 16, a posse of the rebels from the East Bengal Regiment 
raided the Mymensingh district jail and gunned to death seventeen 
prominent non-Bengali citizens who were detained there by the insurgents. 
Violent mobs, led by Awami League storm-troopers and the rebel Bengali 
soldiers, killed almost all the non-Bengali menfolk in Shankipara and nine 
other residential localities of Mymensingh town. More than 1,500 women 
and some children, who were herded like cattle in a mosque and in a school 
building and were to be butchered by their Bengali captors, were saved in 
the nick of time by a column of the Pakistan Army which re-occupied 
Mymensingh town on April 31, 1971. The rebels killed many anti- Awami 
League Bengalis. 

A Correspondent of the Reuters News Agency, Maurice 
Quaintance, who visited Mymensingh early in May, said in a despatch 
published in the Ceylon Daily News of Colombo of May 15, 1971: 

" There is evidence that non-Bengalis, largely immigrants 

from India who sought refuge after the 1947 Partition, were 
attacked, hacked to death and burnt in their homes by mobs 

"Eye-witnesses told stories of 1,500 widows and orphans fleeing to 
a mosque at Mymensingh, in the north, as armed men identified as 
secessionists slaughtered their husbands and fathers." 

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The New York Times reporting a Mymensingh despatch from its Pakistan 
Correspondent, Malcolm Browne, said in its issue of May 7, 1971: 

"Officials also said that before the Government soldiers took the 
city (Mymensingh), the Bengalis had killed at least 1,000 Bihari or 
non-Bengali residents. Army officials introduced correspondents to 
people who said there had been a slaughter of Bihari residents by 
the dominant Bengali group led by members of the Awami League, 
the political party that was outlawed by the Central Government 
soon after the military action began in East Pakistan on March 

25 

"There were so many bodies here, one officer said, it was 
impossible to identify them or bury them. He said that they had to 
be thrown into the Brahamaputra river, a tributary of the 

Ganges 

"The main loss of life here apparently occurred in the fields and 
fruit groves outside Mymensingh and in clusters of huts that had 
been burned to the ground." 

A Correspondent of the American news Service, Associated Press, 
who also visited Mymensingh early in May 1971, quoted in his despatch 
the Assistant Postmaster of the town as having said: 

"There were 5,000 non-Bengalis where I lived and now there are 25 
survivors " 

Maurice Quaintance of the Reuters News Agency said in his 
Mymensingh despatch of May 7, 1971: 



"Reporters flown here on the second day of a conducted tour of 
trouble spots interviewed a man identified as the Assistant 
Postmaster of Mymensingh who showed scars on his neck and what 
he said was a bayonet mark on his body. The man said he lived in a 
colony of 5,000 non-Bengalis of whom only 25 survived the 
massacre on April 17. The interview ended abruptly when the 
Assistant Postmaster mentioned the killing and mutilation of his 
family and burst into tears 

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"The General commanding Mymensingh district said that the 
killing began in the latter half of March and was carried out by 
Awami League volunteers, the armed wing of Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman's sccessionsit Awami Party, plus East Bengal Rifles and 
East Bengal Regiment troops who defected to secessionist 
cause " 

Eye-witnesses of the carnage of non-Bengalis in Mymensingh in 
March- April 1971, who were interviewed in Karachi for this book have 
bared a macabre story of horror and bloodshed. 

Mujibur Rahman, 55, who lived in Quarter No. 8 of Block 12 in 
the Shankipara colony in Mymensingh town and owned a cloth shop, said: 

"It was the last week of March 1971. I was saying my afternoon 
prayers in the Mosque in our locality. All of a sudden, about 200 
Bengali soldiers from the East Bengal Regiment and the East 
Pakistan Rifles and Awami League militants attacked the 
Shankipara colony. They machine-gunned the praying non- 
Bengalis in the Mosque and at least 80 of them died in the shooting. 
Many were injured. I fainted, and the killers, who were heading for 
the houses of the non-Bengalis, thought that I was dead. Late in the 
night, I regained consciousness and slipped back to my house. The 
Bengali raiders had looted it; there was no trace of my son and my 
daughter-in-law. Some houses were ablaze. On way to my house, I 
saw scores of dead bodies on the road. Some old women were 
bemoaning their dead. In the far distance, echoes of gunfire and 
rifle-shot frequently rent the stillness of the night. The killers had 
murdered all the non-Bengali male residents of the colony. They 
had marched the crying women, some with suckling children, to a 
large, nearby Mosque. These women were rescued by the Pakistan 
Army after it re-occupied Mymensingh in the third week of April. 
At least 5,000 non-Bengalis lived in my locality; not more than 25 
survived the killing. I was one of the survivors. I had lost all my 
relatives. In November 1971, 1 left Mymensingh for good and came 
to Karachi." 



Nasima Khatoon, 38, whose husband, Syed Tahir Hussain Akhter, 
was employed as a clerk at the Mymensingh Railway Station had this 

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pathetic recollection of that terrible day when she was widowed by the 
Bengali insurgents: 

"We owned a small house in the Shankipara Colony's C Block. The 
entire population consisted of non-Bengalis. Since the middle of 
March 1971, a pall of fear and foreboding shrouded the locality. 
Late in March, killer gangs, armed with rifles and machine-guns, 
attacked a number of houses in our locality, killed the men and 
abducted their women and children. On April 17, about 15,000 
blood-thirsty insurgents and miscreants, many armed with machine 
guns, stormed our colony. They set fire to hundreds of houses; they 
dragged men and boys from their homes and killed them on the 
spot. My husband and my teenage son had locked the front door of 
our house. We had no way to escape. Some 50 armed miscreants 
smashed the door and rushed in. In the name of God, in the name of 
the Holy Quran, I begged them to spare my husband and my son. A 
thug hit me on the head with the butt of his rifle and I fell down. 
The butchers dragged my husband and my son outside the house 
and shot them dead. I wanted to wail over their dead bodies but the 
slaughterers, prodding me with their bayonets, marched me to a 
school building where hundreds of lamenting widows and mothers 
like me were lodged. Life in this inferno was a torture. I was 
delirious; I raved day and night. The women wailed and the 
children cried with hunger and thirst. Some women and children 
died; there were hardly any teenage girls left; the thugs had 
kidnapped them for lust. On the fourth day of our incarceration, a 
contingent of the Pakistan Army rescued us. I was taken to a Relief 
Camp in Dacca from where I was taken by my father to his home in 
Chittagong. I was repatriated from Chittagong to Karachi in 
February 1971." 



Sixty-year-old Sheikh Habibullah, who owned and drove an auto- 
rickshaw (pedicab) and lived in House No. 14 on Daulatmunshi Road in 
the Kishtopur locality in Shankipara in Mymensingh, broke down in sobs 
when he narrated in Karachi, in February 1974, the slaughter of his four 
grown-up sons by the Awami League militants late in March 1971. He said 
he and his sons spoke Bengali exceedingly well but they were dubbed as 
Biharis because he had migrated from the Indian State of Bihar to East 

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Pakistan shortly after Partition in August 1947, (He had forgotten the Urdu 
script and he signed his testimony for this book in Bengali). Nervous and 
haggard, Habibullah said: 

"Tension gripped Mymensingh town in mid-March, 1971. The non- 
Bengali population was subjected to intimidation and insults and 
there were rumours that the Awami League militants would attack 
them with the arms they had looted from the police armoury and 
also smuggled from India. The first raid by the Awami League 
hoodlums on the Bihari-inhabited Shankipara colony took place on 
March 23. All through the last week of March and the first half of 
April, armed gangs of Awami Leaguers and rebel Bengali soldiers 
looted and burnt the homes of non-Bengalis and murdered them by 
the thousands. Early in April, a yelling mob of 50 armed rebels 
broke into my house. My grown-up sons, Sanaullah, Shafi Ahmed, 
Ali Ahmed and Ali Akhtcr, resisted the attackers but they had no 
weapons to defend themselves. I lunged at one of the gunmen who 
had raised his gun to kill my eldest son. He struck me on the head 
and I collapsed. Just before I lost consciousness, there was a burst 
of machine gunfire and my four sons fell down in a pool of blood. I 
saw the crying wives of Sanaullah and Shafi Ahmed rushing into 
the room where their husbands were being butchered. I passed out 
and the killers thought I was dead. The next morning when I 
regained consciousness, I saw the dead bodies of my four sons; I 
was nearly mad. I kissed their blood-spattered faces; I looked for 
their heartbeats; they were lifeless. There was no trace of my two 
daughters-in-law. My house was looted and every valuable was 
gone. I was too scared to take the dead bodies of my sons to the 
graveyard. There was not a soul in the houses in my 
neighbourhood; in the distance I heard occasionally the echo of rifle 
shots and gunfire. The whine and whimper of dogs was the only 
sign of life in this ghost colony; dead bodies littered the rough road 
near my house 



"Some unfortunate Biharis sought refuge in a Mosque in the 
neighbourhood which was given the nickname of "TheBihari 
Mosque" by the Bengalis. A large gang of armed killers smashed 
the doors of the Mosque and killed 175 non-Bengalis right inside 

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this House of God. About 300 non-Bengalis had left their homes in 
Shankipara and they took refuge in the building of a primary 
school. They had no weapons with them. Early in April, they were 
liquidated by the rebels. After the Pakistan Army captured 
Mymensingh, I buried my four sons in the graveyard. I visited the 
nearby Bihari residential localities of Chalisbari, Chattisbari, 
Islamabad and Ikya. Except for a few aged stragglers like myself, 
all traces of human habitation had vanished from these once 
populous colonies. The stench of rotting dead pervaded the entire 
neighbourhood. Scores of houses had been burnt and reduced to a 
shambles. I was told that the insurgents had kidnapped and raped 
more than 1,500 Bihari young women from the Shankipara Colony 
during the period of their accursed control over Mymensingh. Some 
Bihari women had jumped into wells to escape the clutches of their 
rapists 

"An angel was the Bengali Pesh Imam (Muslim Priest) of the big 
Mosque near the Police Station who gave shelter to more than 500 
Bihari survivors of the carnage in Shankipara. He pleaded for their 
lives with the Bengali mutineers who were after their blood. With 
the help of a Bengali Moazzin (the man who calls Muslims to 
prayers), the Pesh Imsm collected boiled rice from God-fearing 
Bengalis in other localities and fed the terror-stricken non-Bengali 
men, women and children in the Mosque. The Awami League 
hoodlums were planning his murder but the timely arrival of the 
Pakistan Army on April 21 saved him and the Biharis sheltered in 
the Mosque. As a rickshaw driver, I knew the Cantonment very 
well and had some Punjabi and Pathan friends amongst the soldiers 
stationed there, before the March killing of non-Bengalis. When I 
visited it three days after it had been re-occupied by the Pakistan 
Army, I learnt of the terrible massacre of the non-Bengali military 
personnel and their families by the rebels of the East Bengal 
Regiment in a midnight swoop on the Cantonment on March 26/27. 
There was no trace of my West Pakistani soldier friends. I came to 
Karachi in February 1974." 



Anwar Hussain, 31, who was employed in a trading firm in 
Mymensingh, and whose life was saved by a Bengali friend, said: 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"On March 24, 1971, the Awami League took out a large 
procession in Mymensingh. They yelled slogans against the non- 
Bengalis. Many of the processionists were armed with rifles, 
spears, axes, daggers and staves. My local Bengali friends told me 
that quite a few amongst the processionists were not the inhabitants 
of Mymensingh. The procession passed through my locality and 
shouted slogans against the Biharis. The Awami League militants, 
who were leading the procession, announced through a megaphone 
that all the non-Bengalis should surrender their weapons 
voluntarily, otherwise a search would be conducted and those found 
with weapons would be shot dead. The Bihari residents of our 
locality surrendered their weapons which included a few guns, 
knives and spears. The non-Bengalis, who went to surrender their 
weapons to the Bengali processionists were ordered to march to an 
open ground some distance away. There they were massacred. 
After a few hours the processionists returned to our locality and 
looted and burnt scores of non-Bengali houses. Most of the menfolk 
in these unfortunate homes were slaughtered, and the wailing 
women, many with babies in their arms, were marched at gunpoint 
to a school building. Right from the middle of March, I had a 
premonition that the Bengali crackdown of the Biharis was in the 
offing. I had sought the help of a good-natured, Islam-loving 
Bengali friend. A few hours before the Awami League killers went 
on the rampage in our locality, I moved my family to his house and 
I escaped the massacre just in the nick of time. In the third week of 
April, when the Pakistan Army re-occupied Mymensingh, we went 
back to our house. A part of it was burnt and it had been looted. I 
saw very few non-Bengali survivors in what was before the carnage 
a populous, smiling township " 

Anwar Hussain and his family moved to Dacca in the autumn of 
1971. After India's occupation of East Pakistan in December 1971, they 
lived a terrorised life in Mohammedpur in Dacca. In January 1974, the 
United Nations airlift wafted them to Pakistan. 

Fahim Siddiqi, 35, who was employed in a commercial firm in 
Mymensingh and lived in a rented house in the Sitarampur locality with his 
two brothers, said in Karachi in March, 1971: 



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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"When I left Chittagong on board a Russian ship late in February 
1974 for Karachi, I had made up my mind that I would forget the 
nightmare of the past two and a quarter years. I had spent the best 
part of my life in Mymensingh; I loved the town and I had very 
good friends, Bengalis as well as non-Bengalis. I spoke excellent 
Bengali. Late in March, 1971, a riotous mob of Awami League-led 
Bengalis, armed with guns and scythes, stormed the houses of non- 
Bengalis in my locality. "Loot, burn and kill the menfolk" was their 
mode of savagery. The killer gangs looted my house and butchered 
my two grown-up brothers in a nearby field which was the 
execution ground. I slipped away from my house minutes after the 
gunmen forayed into our locality. I sought refuge in a dilapidated, 
abandoned building and lived in it until the Pakistan Army freed 
Mymensingh from the rebels' control in the third week of April. I 
saw very few survivors of the massacre of non-Bengalis in my 
locality " 

Anweri Begum, 35, who lived in Quarter No. T/56 in the Railway Colony 
in Mymensingh and who saw her husband slaughtered by a Bengali killer 
gang, gave the following account of her misfortune: 



"In the second week of April, when the town was under the control 
of the Bengali insurgents, half a dozen Bengalis came to our house 
and told my husband that our lives would be spared if we gave 
them all the cash and ornaments we had. I readily parted with all 
my jewellery; we scraped some cash and handed it to the Bengali 
visitors. We passed the night in fear. I suggested to my husband 
that we should leave the house and seek refuge in the home of a 
Bengali friend in another part of the town. He disagreed with my 
suggestion because of the assurance of safety which had been given 
to him by the miscreants who had taken away our cash and 
ornaments. In the evening of the next day, a dozen armed rebels 
broke into our house. Three of them had visited us on the previous 
day. Seme of them wore red caps and appeared to be Hindus. When 
my husband remonstrated with them, they shot him in the chest and 
he was bathed in blood. A non-Bengali friend of my husband and 
his teenage son, who tried to rescue him, were riddled with bullets. 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



The killers locked for my 16-year-old son; I had concealed him 
under a pile of mats on the roof. The rebels had imposed a post- 
sunset blackout in Mymensingh. There was no light in my house. I 
heard the groan of my husband in the veranda and I tiptoed to him. 
I gave him some water; I washed his bleeding wounds. Speaking 
very faintly — he was fearful of the Bengali killers who prowled in 
the locality — he asked me not to lose heart. "Have faith in God; 
He will look after you", my husband said. He kissed our ten-month- 
old son; he spoke to our second son, aged 9, who had hid himself 
beneath a cot during the murderous visit of the killers. My husband 
was in the agony of death; blood seeped from his wounds but he 
was courageous. He asked me to feel the pulse of his friend and of 
his son; they were cold and dead. In the early hours of the morning, 
he breathed his last. I could not control myself; I cried aloud. The 
killers rushed into my house; they aimed their guns at me and asked 
me to go with them. They said they would bury my dead husband. I 
covered my husband's dead body with a blanket and followed my 
captors. With me were my two sons; the eldest lay hidden on the 
roof 



"Hundreds of dead bodies littered our path and the sidewalks. Many 
houses were burnt. Roving bands of armed insurgents searched 
houses for survivors who were immediately liquidated. They poked 
some dead bodies with burning cigarettes; the slightest reaction 
evoked a burst of gunshots. We were; taken to the big Mosque in 
the city. On the way, our captors told us that our lives were being 
spared because after a few days they would make us their domestic 
servants. Inside the Mosque, it was a terrifying scene. There were 
hundreds of wailing women and crying children. There was no 
water, no food. I tore a part of my sari and my suckling son lay on 
it. I begged a Bengali attendant in the Mosque to get us some water; 
he obliged. For two days we had no food. On the third day, the 
Imam (priest) of the Mosque gave us some food to eat. Although a 
Bengai he was an angel to us. I was harried day and night by the 
fear that the killers had perhaps killed my eldest son. On the fourth 
day, my prayers for his safety were answered when he joined us in 
the Mosque. A Bengali neighbour, he said, had taken pity on him 
and smuggled him into the Mosque. On April 21, the Pakistan 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Army occupied Mymensingh and rescued us. It took many days to 
bury the rotting dead bodies of slain non-Bengalis. I went back to 
my house to look for the dead body of my husband; there was no 
trace of it. Deep and large bloodstains on the floor were reminders 
of his gruesome murder. The Pakistan Army moved us to a Relief 
Camp in Dacca where we lived in peace. On December 17, 1971 
our travail began afresh when the Indian Army and the Mukti 
Bahini seized East Pakistan. We had become so inured to torture 
and misery that we were prepared for the worst; we had only our 
bare bodies to lose. In March, 1974, my three children aud I were 
flown to Karachi from Dacca". 

Fifty-year-old Qamrunnissa, whose husband, Mohammed Qasim 
and her eldest son, were killed by the insurgents late in March 1971, in 
Shankipara in Mymensingh, broke down in sobs as she gave an account of 
her woes: 



"It was the last week of March 1971. Our hearts were chilled by 
rumours that the Awami Leaguers and the rebel soldiers were 
planning the massacre of all the Urdu- speaking people in 
Mymensingh. In some localities, killings of non-Bengalis had taken 
place. Every day, processionists, shouting "Joi Bangla" and armed 
with lethal weapons, used to parade in the non-Bengali localities. In 
the evening, some Bengali boys knocked at our door and asked to 
see my husband. He opened the door and a group of armed men 
burst in. At the point of a gun, they ordered my husband and my 
grown-up son to go with them. I appealed to them for mercy and to 
spare the lives of my dear ones but they were heartless brutes. I 
never saw my husband and my son again; the killers murdered 
them. Poking a bayonet in my arm, they double-marched me to a 
nearby school where hundreds of crying women and children were 
held in captivity. On the way, we had seen the blood-soaked dead 
bodies of their unfortunate husbands and fathers, lying on the roads 
and the wayside. I saw one of our captors touching with a burning 
cigarette a dead body which he thought showed signs of life. He 
was dead as a doornail. The next day, the women and children, who 
were lodged in the school for the night, were marched to a big 
mosque where hundreds of other widows and orphans, bemoaning 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



the recent loss of their male kith and kin, were interned. The 
Bengali imam (priest) of the Mosque was kind and helpful, and he 
brought us some water and food. He did his best to dissuade our 
captors from killing us. On April 21, we were saved from the jaws 
of death by the timely arrival of the Pakistan Army. They rescued 
us and transported us to a Relief Camp in Dacca. After the Indian 
troops and the Mukti Bahini captured Dacca on December 17, 
1971, I underwent more physical and mental suffering. In January 
1974, 1 was repatriated from Dacca to Karachi." 

Sixty-year-old Ghaffurunnissa's account of her woes and 
suffering in March- April 1971 in a suburban locality of Mymensingh, 
which had a sprinkling of non-Bengalis, was heart-rending; 

"In the last week of March 1971, killer gangs of Awami Leaguers 
and rebel soldiers of the East Bengal Regiment went on the 
rampage in our locality. Initially, their victims were the Punjabi 
residents of our locality. All the young and middle-aged men of the 
nearly 70 Punjabi families in our neighbourhood were taken at 
gunpoint to a far away place which, we learnt, was the rebels' 
slaughter-house for the non-Bengalis. Early in the second fortnight 
of April, these killer gangs attacked all the other non-Bengalis in 
our locality — looting, burning and killing. They broke into our 
house and dragged my husband and my married son to an open 
field half a furlong away. 



"I spotted in this crowd of hostages my brother and his teenage son. 
Their captors lined up their non-Bengali captives and asked them to 
salute a flag which they said was of Bangladesh. Many of the non- 
Bengalis ignored the guns pointed at them and refused to salute this 
flag. A fusillade of bullets burst forth from the cruel guns of the 
rebels and hundreds of innocent men were killed. After the killers 
had made sure that there were no men survivors — they pumped 
bullets into the hearts of those who took time to give up the ghost 
— they returned to the non-Bengali houses where the sorrowing 
women rent the skies with their wailing. I heard the leader of a 
killer gang tell his accomplices that the non-Bengali women should 
be spared so that they could be made domestic servants. With me 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



was my widowed daughter-in-law and her one-year-old son. We 
were marched to a school; the next day we were taken to a big 
Mosque. For six days we lived inside this House of God in agony 
and suffering; most of us prayed most of the time for our husbands 
and our sons and for our deliverance. On April 21, the Pakistan 
Army entered Mymensingh and rescued us. We were moved to a 
Relief Camp in Dacca. After the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini 
seized East Pakistan on December 17, 1971, we lived in terror in a 
Camp for Biharis in Mohammedpur in Dacca. Our travail ended in 
December 1973 when the United Nations repatriated me and my 
daughter-in-law and her little son to Karachi " 

Thirty- year-old Zaibunnissa, whose husband, Mohammed 
Ibraheem, was a Railway employee in Mymensingh, narrated the pathetic 
story of her widowhood in these words: 

"We had lived in peace with our Bengali neighbours for years. My 
husband was a quiet and hardworking man who had no interest in 
politics. In the last week of March 1971, a score of yelling and 
armed Bengalis, whom I had never seen before in our locality, 
broke the door of our house and overpowered my husband. I 
begged them to spare my husband and my three little children. They 
slapped me and kicked my crying children and pushed my husband 
outside the house. Another mob of angry Bengalis lynched him and 
dragged him to the execution ground. The killer gang looted my 
home and marched me and my little children at gunpoint to a small 
building which, I learnt, was an old jail. We lived in that hell for 
more than three weeks. The suffering had become so acute and 
unbearable that I prayed for death. On April 21, the Pakistan Army 
delivered us from this inferno. For three days, I wandered all over 
Mymensingh in search of my husband but there was no trace of 
him. Our soldiers consoled me. I and my orphaned children were 
moved to Dacca in mid- 1971. The nightmare ended for us in 
February 1974 when the United Nations transported us to safety 
and freedom in Karachi." 



Shahzadi Begum, 24, whose husband, Akhter Hussain, worked as 
a postman in Mymensirgh, gave a harrowing description of the carnage in 

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by Qutubuddin Aziz 



which her husband, her father-in-law and her brother-in-law were executed 
by a gang of rebels in the first half of April 1971: 

"We owned a small house in a suburban colony in Mymensingh. 
Since the middle of March 1971, we lived in terror because of 
alarming reports that the Awami League militants were planning to 
kill all the Punjabis. On March 23, my husband returned home in 
panic and said that a lot of his Punjabi friends had been butchered 
by Awami League militants, rebel soldiers and policemen. In the 
second week of April, a mob of Bengalis, many armed with guns, 
forayed into our house and dragged away my husband, my father- 
in-law and my teenage brother-in-law. At gunpoint, they ordered 
the women to stay indoors. The non-Bengali men, including my 
husband and my in-laws, were marched to an open field where they 
were shot dead 



"Our tormentors forced me and my two little daughters to go with 
them. We passed through a green field and we saw a ghastly scene. 
Scattered on the ground were the dead bodies of hundreds of non- 
Bengalis who had been executed by firing squads. Some, it seemed, 
had been killed with daggers and butcher's knives. One of our 
Bengali captors, who saw a body move, promptly stilled it with a 
gunshot. I closed my eyes in sheer horror and fright; my two little 
daughters shrieked in fear. The angry looks of our captors and a 
gleaming bayonet left us no choice but to continue marching under 
the scorching sun. As we moved on to a road, we saw scores of 
bleeding dead bodies sprawled all over the roadside. Some were 
being dumped in a truck. Subsequently, I learnt that many of the 
non-Bengali dead were tossed into the nearby Brahmaputra river. 
On the way, we saw hundreds of burnt houses and mat huts 

"We stayed for an hour in a school building, a part of which had 
been apparently used as a slaughter-house for non-Bengalis. Dead 
bodies lay in heaps. We were marched to another school building 
where hundreds of grieving women and children were herded. I saw 
one of the women holding in her hands the Holy Quran. In the 
name of the Holy Book, she appealed to her incarcerators to allow 
her to go home to look after her orphaned, little children. A 

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youthful captor flung the Holy Book from her hands and struck her 
in the face. We were tormented in this improvised prison for a 
week; many children died of thirst and hunger. On April 21, we 
were rescued and freed by the Pakistan Army. Most of the women 
and children were moved to Dacca. I preferred to stay back in 
Mymensingh. For eight months we had peace. But after the Indian 
Army and the Mukti Bahini occupied Mymensingh in the third 
week of December 1971, life again became a horror for us. There 
was some relief when we were moved to a Red Cross Camp for 
Biharis in Mymensingh early in 1972. My two small daughters and 
I were repatriated to Karachi in February 1974. I am convinced that 
many of those who killed the non-Bengalis in Mymensingh in 
March- April, 1971, were Hindu Bengali infiltrators from India." 

Amina Khatoon, 45, whose husband, Zainul Abedin, a carpenter, 
was slain by a killer gang in the middle of April 1971 in a locality near 
Shankipara in Mymensingh, thus spoke of the tragedy in her life: 



"A group of armed rebels stormed our locality on April 15' . They 
looted my house and drove me and my husband to a nearby field. 
The men were lined up at some distance from the women. All the 
captives were non-Bengalis. All of a sudden, a young, toughlooking 
Bengali gave the order to shoot and, in a jiffy, volleys of bullets 
smothered more than a hundred non-Bengalis. Seared in my 
memory is that gory scene. I saw my husband fall to the ground as 
blood spurted from his chest; I rushed to be with him in his death 
agony. Before I could reach him, a gunman bashed my head with 
the butt of his gun. I slumped and fainted. Bayonet prods, a kick 
and abuses greeted me when I regained my senses; my tormentors 
marched me to a Mosque where hundreds of widowed women and 
orphaned children were jailed. It was a ghoulish life. Out of the six 
days of our incarceration, for four days we lived on water; we had 
no food to eat. Many children died of hunger. A couple of kind- 
hearted Bengali attendants in the Mosque took pity on us and got us 
some boiled rice which was eaten by the starving children. We were 
told that our rebel tormentors were planning our massacre. But Gcd 
willed otherwise, and on April 21, in the forenoon, the Pakistan 
Army rescued us. Earlier in the morning, our captors had vanished 

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from the Mosque. All the destitute women and children, whose 
male relatives had been slaughtered by the Bengali insurgents, were 
taken to a Relief Camp in Dacca. I was repatriated to Karachi in 
January, 1974." 

Thirty-two-year-old Saira, whose husband, Abdul Hamid Khan, 
was employed as a driver in the Mymensingh police force and who saw 
him slain by a killer gang in the second week of April 1971, had the 
following recollection of that dreadful scene: 

"As my husband was a non-Bengali and a Pathan, the rebel soldiers 
and policemen were after his blood right from the middle of March 
1971. A group of them broke into our house in the first week of 
April, overpowered my husband and dragged him to a nearby 
paddy field. Unmindful of the crying of my three little children who 
were shocked by the plight of their father, I ran to the killer gang in 
the rice field and entreated them, in the name of Allah, to spare the 
life of my husband. But these ruthless men were out for a kill, and 
one of them slit my husband's throat with a large knife. I was 
horrified; I was speechless. As I rushed towards him, the killers 
grabbed me and hurled me to the ground. I heard the groans of my 
dying husband as they stabbed him in the chest and in the stomach 
to hasten his end. In the mean time, four gunmen arrived on the 
scene and pulled me back to my house. It had been looted. My 
terror-stricken children stood at the doorstep. Our gun-toting 
captors marched us to a big Mosque. On the way, we saw hundreds 
of dead bodies on the road and the sidewalks. Many houses had 
been burnt. Life inside the Mosque was an infernal torture; more 
than a thousand women and children wailed and groaned. I saw 
very few teenage girls in this terrified mass of humanity. The 
Bengali attendants in the Mosque got us some water from a nearby 
pond which enabled us to survive. The Pakistan Army freed us 
from this hellish captivity on April 21, 1971. My orphaned children 
and I were transported by the Army to Dacca where we lived in a 
Relief Camp. In November 1973, we were flown to Karachi." 



Nasima, 27, a Bengali, whose husband, Abdul Jalil, a Bihari, 
owned a retail shop in Mymensingh, gave this account of the slaying of her 

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Blood and Tears 

husband late in March 1971: 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



"Some of my Bengali compatriots hated me and my family because 
I had married a Bihari. On March 26, 1971, a riotous crowd of 
miscreants went on the rampage, looted our shop and hacked my 
husband to death. When the shocking news of his murder reached 
me in my house, I ran to the shop to retrieve his dead body. There 
was no trace of it, but fresh bloodstains were visible. I was told that 
the killers had carted it away in a truck in the direction of the river 
which was at some distance. Early in April 1971, the rebel soldiers 
drove me out of my house and I went to live with my Bengali 
parents who were very religious-minded and strongly condemned 
the killing of the non-Bengalis. After the Indian Army and the 
Mukti Bahini seized East Pakistan on December 17, 1971, there 
was a carnage of Biharis and also of Bengalis who were considered 
loyal to Pakistan. On December 18, a killer gang attacked our house 
and killed my father and my two grown up brothers. My third 
brother, aged 5, and I were in the house of a neighbour when our 
house was attacked. He helped us in escaping to a nearby village 
where we lived and worked in the paddy fields for more than two 
years. When the United Nations started the repatriation of non- 
Bengalis to Pakistan, I made a frantic effort to come to Pakistan. I 
had no place in Bangladesh; every moment of my life there was a 
torment. On February 11, 1974, I was flown to Karachi by the 
United Nations." 

The evidence of eye-witnesses indicates that Awami League 
militants and rebel soldiers, who killed non-Bengalis in Mymensingh by 
the thousands, retreated and fled to India in the face of the advancing 
Pakistan Army in the third week of April, 1971. After the federal troops 
entered Mymensingh, they arranged the mass burial of the slaughtered non- 
Bengalis. In his despatch of May 8, 1971, from Mymensingh, Malcolm 
Browne of the New York Times, reported: 

"At intervals, along streets lined with ramshackle houses, bodies 
have been buried in shallow graves and covered with piles of red 
bricks. Bodies covered with bricks are found even on the porches of 
houses which themselves are unoccupied and closed." 



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Interred in these graves were the non-Bengalis slain by the 
insurgents but India's propaganda machinery and the Awami League 
publicists drummed the lie that these graves were of Bengalis killed by the 
Pakistan Army. Witnesses from Mymensingh said that many non-Bengali 
families underwent terrible hardships and agony in the towns of 
Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Bhairab Bazar, Begunbari, and Sarasabari. 
Hundreds of Bihari handloom weavers in Narsingdi were done to death in 
March, 1971 by riotous mobs. In Bhairab Bazar, where many non-Bengalis 
were engaged in the jute trade, a few rich businessmen were held for 
ransom and their houses were looted. Awami League militants prevented 
many non-Bengali families from escaping to Dacca and killed their men. A 
dozen non-Bengali families were done to death in Sarasabari in the last 
week of March 1971. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT 

Pogrom in Rajshahi, Natore 

The murderous frenzy of the Awami League militants and the 
rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles against the non-Bengalis in Rajshahi 
erupted in the last week of March 1971. Across the three-mile-wide river 
Padma lies the Indian border. The Bengali mutineers, who were in control 
of the city during the Awami League's rebellion, were supplied with 
military equipment from India. Armed infiltrators from India also moved 
into Rajshahi ard its neighbouring towns for sabotage and for aiding the 
Bengali rebels. They abetted in the mass murder of thousands of innocent 
non-Bengali men, women and children. In their resistance to the advancing 
Pakistan Army, the rebels used Indian- supplied bazookas and rocket 
launchers. Indian artillery shelled the outworks of Rajshahi as the federal 
troops closed in and the Bengali rebels fled in disarray to the sanctuary of 
the Indian border across the river. The federal troops regained control over 
Rajshahi on April 15, 1971. Three weeks later, a group of six foreign 
newsmen visited Rajshahi. 

Maurice Quaintance of the Reuters News Agency, in a despatch 
from Rajshahi, dated May 9, 1971, reported: 

" An eye-witness said the man defending this section included 

deserters from the East Pakistan Rifles, reinforced by what he 
described as 'Indian Military'. Another claimed that Bangla Desh 
(Land of Bengal) dissidents burned and looted stores in the market 
which are largely-owned by non-Bengalis. Villagers close by 
showed the journalists a well where bodies were seen rotting below. 
They said the bodies were thrown there in a massacre before the 
Army took over the area and claimed that 700 were killed by 
secessionist Bengalis in the villages of non-Bengalis " 

Malcolm Browne of the New York Times reported in a despatch from 

Rajshahi, dated May 9, 1971: 

" The impression based on the testimony of hundreds of 

witnesses is that when it seemed that the Awami League was about 
to come to power, Bengalis in some communities looted and burnt 
Bihari houses and slaughtered their occupants " 



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Mohammed Amin, 24, who lived near the Jinnah Hall in the 
Campus of the Rajshahi University, reported that on March 2, 1971, a mob 
of more than 3,000 Awami League-led secessionists stormed the offices of 
the Deputy Commissioner and the District Judge and ceremoniously burnt 
the Pakistan flag and destroyed the office records. The mob, which yelled 
"Joi Bangla", shouted threats at the non-Bengalis and looted some shops 
owned by them. At night, Mohammed Amin saw lurid tongues of fire 
lightning the sky as killer gangs went on the rampage, burning, looting and 
killing the non-Bengalis. On March 3, when the Awami League ordered a 
general strike, killer gangs ignored the curfew and roamed at will in the 
city, preventing Government employees from going to their offices and 
forcing traders to close down their shops. The conscientious Bengali 
District Judge succeeded in reaching his office; a killer gang yelled death at 
him and burnt his office after sprinkling petrol on the woodwork. A 
bloodthirsty mob prevented the Bengali Deputy Commissioner, Mr. 
Rashidul Hassan, from going to his office. On March 26, the police force in 
Rajshahi revolted and threatened to slaughter all the non-Bengalis in the 
city. On March 29, the small Pakistan Army contingent in Rajshahi 
attacked the rebel policemen in their Police Lines strongpoint after a West 
Pakistani soldier was shot at and wounded by a rebel sniper. In barely an 
hour, the rebel policemen were routed and they fled in disarray to 
neighbouring India. Indian- supplied machine-guns and bazookas were 
found in the police stronghold. Seme policemen who surrendered said that 
Indian military personnel had sneaked across the border to help the rebels. 

Amin said that on March 31, a posse of Bengali rebels from the 
East Pakistan Rifles kidnapped the Deputy Commissioner to Nawabganj, 
30 miles from Rajshahi and lodged him in the local jail. In the night of 
April 15, a gang of 20 armed rebels slaughtered some 175 non-Bengalis, 
including women and children, who were detained in the jail. Their dead 
bodies were dumped at the human abattoir by the riverside. As the federal 
troops reoccupied Nawabganj, the fleeing rebels kidnapped the Bengali 
Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi to their sanctuary of Maldah in India 
where the Indian Border Security Force welcomed them and jailed the 
Deputy Commissioner. On May 6, he made a daring escape bid and 
reached East Pakistan by swimming across the Padma river. The non- 
Bengali teachers of the Rajshahi University were terrorised by the armed 
rebels and their houses were ransacked but their Bengali colleagues, at 
great risk to themselves, shielded them in the Campus all through the 



insurgency period. Very fluent in Bengali, Amin dodged the killer gangs 
by posing as a Bengali. 

Afsar Ali, 35, whose brother was employed in the Rajshahi Unit of 
Radio Pakistan, said that the Broadcasting House was shelled and wrecked 
by the rebels of the East Pakistan Rifles in the first week of April, 1971. "I 
learnt from my brother", said Afsar Ali, "that on April 7, armed personnel 
from the East Pakistan Rifles caught hold of the Bengali Regional Director 
of Radio Pakistan and asked him to begin transmissions in the name of 'Joi 
Bangla Radio'. He said the broadcasting equipment was damaged in the 
shelling and a new crystal was needed. The next day, an engineer of All 
India Radio from Calcutta arrived with the crystal but it did not fit and the 
transmitter could not be operated. The Indian engineer took back with him 
details of the transmitter and promised to send a set of crystals from 
Calcutta. But the crystal did not arrive and the Pakistan Army gained full 
control over Rajshahi on April 14, 1971." 

Afsar Ali, who lived in the neighbourhood of Sahib Bazar in 
Rajshahi and was sheltered by a Bengali friend, claimed that during the 
period of the rebels' rule in April 1971, he saw a number of Indian Army 
personnel in the town. They spoke Hindi and they carried sten guns. Two 
of them directed the firing squad which shot dead hundreds of non- 
Bengalis and some pro-Pakistan Bengalis, including the local 
Superintendent of Police. Working with the rebels of the East Pakistan 
Rifles, they gave instructions to the Indian Border Security Force, 
operating from across the Padma river, to shell the Pakistan Army 
positions in the area. The armed Awami League militants, according to 
Afsar Ali, looted all the shops and houses owned by non-Bengalis and 
butchered the non-Bengali menfolk by the hundreds along the riverside 
slaughter-houses. The Awami League cadres used to pay Rs. 20 to any 
informant who disclosed the whereabouts of a non-Bengali in hiding. 
Many pro-Pakistan Bengalis, who sheltered their non-Bengali friends, were 
abused and beaten up by the rebels. The wife of the Bengali Deputy 
Commissioner was threatened with death because she sheltered a dozen 
non-Bengali families whose menfolk were murdered by Awami League-led 
killer gangs. 

Afsar Ali said that in Natore, the Bengali Sub-Divisional Officer 
joined the rebels and organized the mass slaughter of non-Bengalis. "Kill 
all the Biharis", were his orders. Another organizer of the butchery in 
Natore was a local Hindu, Gommasa Choudhry, who hated the non-Bengali 



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Muslims, especially the Biharis. He and his men murdered scores of 
Biharis in the Natore Jail and in the Allahpur Jamia Mosque. Some 500 
Bihari survivors, mostly women and children, who were about to be killed 
by the rebels, were rescued in the nick of time by the Pakistan Army in 
Natore. 

The pogrom against the non-Bengalis was conducted with savagery 
by the insurgents and their Awami League instigators in other towns of 
Rajshahi district such as Sarda and Nawabganj. Estimates of the number of 
non-Bengalis who lost their lives in the Rajshahi district in March-April 
1971, before it was liberated by the Pakistan Army, range from 5,ooo to 
10,000. The Bengali mutineers floated many hundreds of corpses into the 
Padma river which laps Rajshahi; many were dumped into derelict wells 
and tanks. 

Thirty- year-old Abdul Bari, who was employed in a trading firm in 
Natore, lost six members of his family, including his young wife and his 
aged father, in the carnage of non-Bengalis late in March 1971. His story 
of woe is as follows: 



"In 1950, my father left Patna in Bihar state with all his family and 
migrated to East Pakistan. I was very young. We lived for four 
years in Jessore and then we shifted to Natore. We built our own 
house in the Birganj locality where many non-Bengalis resided. We 
had cordial relations with the Bengalis in the neighbourhood of our 
colony. On March 25, the Awami Leaguers held a public meeting 
in our colony, abused the non-Bengalis and incited the Bengalis to 
exterminate us. Some sober Bengalis appealed to these jingoes not 
to incite people to violence but their plaintive words had no effect 
on these cut-throats. The Awami League militants, many of whom 
were armed, blared out over a megaphone a long list of the names 
of non-Bengalis who, they said, would be punished for exploiting 
and maltreating the Bengalis. In this list were many highly- 
respected and God-fearing Biharis. Some of them showed great 
courage by walking up to the Bengali crowd and they offered their 
defence. The killer gang had no time for arguments; the vampires 
were out to kill. In a matter of minute, Bengali gunmen slayed all 
the non-Bengalis who had appeared before this kangaroo 

court 

"After half an hour, the blood-thirsty mob went on the rampage and 

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slaughtered more than a thousand non-Bengalis. In my house, they 
killed my 57-year-old father, my wife, my two brothers, my 
brother-in-law and my aged aunt. They tortured my father before 
gunning him to death because he had appealed to them, in the name 
of Allah, to spare women and children. The slayers kidnapped most 
of the teenage girls in our locality; many of them were strangled 
after they had been raped by groups of rebels. I was severely 
wounded in the back by the killer gang and the rebels thought I was 
dead. I hid myself for some days in a nearby dilapidated house. I 
buried the dead bodies of my kith and kin after the Pakistan Army 
had re-occupied Natore in mid- April 1971. I was shifted to Dacca 
in mid- 1971, and I was flown to Karachi in February, 1974." 

The massacre of non-Bengalis in Sarda took place late in March 
and the first week of April, 1971. More than five hundred innocent persons 
perished in this blood-bath. In Nawabganj, Awami League jingoes, rebels 
from the East Pakistan Rifles and Indian infiltrators stormed the local jail 
in the third week of March and enrolled the freed criminals in their ranks. 
One of their torture methods was to overpower non-Bengali young men on 
the streets and make them shout "Joi Bangla". Those who refused were 
lynched. A non-Bengali accounts clerk who refused to yell out the Awami 
League slogan was buried up to his waist in a ditch and was brained to 
death with sticks. More than a thousand non-Bengalis were, murdered in 
March- April, 1971, in Nawabganj. 



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CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE 

Bloodshed in Pabna, Serajganj 

Although the non-Bengali population in Pabna town was not large, 
the Awami League militants made life insecure for non-Bengalis since the 
first week of March 1971. Street manifestations of the Awami League's 
power — rallies, meetings and demonstrations — were organized almost 
everyday all through the month. The houses of the non-Bengalis were 
marked for the impending pogrom. Non-Bengali young men were 
manhandled on the streets and retailers were urged by the Bengali militants 
not to sell food to the Biharis and other non-Bengalis. 

The momentum of the Awami League's anti- Pakistan agitation in 
Pabna reached its fever-heat pitch on March 23 when killer gangs, 
observing the "Resistance Day" ordered by the Awami League High 
Command, went on the rampage and looted and burnt many non-Bengali 
houses and shops. They burnt the Pakistan flag and hoisted the Bangladesh 
flag atop all the Government and private buildings. Those who refused to 
fly the flag of the rebels were shot or maimed with daggers. In the last days 
of March and the first week of April, when the Awami League rebels ruled 
the town, fire and death were carried to many more non-Bengali homes by 
killer gangs. The telephone exchange and the public telegraph were 
controlled by the rebels between the third week of March and the first 
week of April. Witnesses estimate the death toll of non-Bengalis in Pabna 
town at 2,000. 

A number of non-Bengali young women were kidnapped by the 
rebels and ravished before being murdered. When Pabna town was freed by 
the Army from rebel control on April 10, dead bodies of non-Bengalis 
were found in many ransacked houses. The rebels had herded many women 
and children in deserted buildings and put them to the torch before the 
Army came. The rebels blocked escape routes for the terrorised non- 
Bengalis. Some non-Bengali dead bodies, it is reported, were stacked in 
trucks and dumped into the nearby Padma river. Some God-fearing non- 
Bengalis, who tried to persuade the killer gangs not to kill the non-Bengali 
innocents, were intimidated and manhandled. 

Violence against non-Bengalis also occurred in Dulai, Sujanagar, 
Santhia, Kismat, Dera and Shahzadpur. 



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SERAJGANJ 

In the first week of March 1971, the Awami League militants 
terrorised the non-Bengali populace and ordered them to hand over their 
firearms. A few affluent West Pakistani and Bihari traders were kidnapped 
for ransom. The Awami League storm troopers stole guns from the police 
armoury. In the second week of the month, the Awami League militants 
became more daring and bellicose, and committed sporadic acts of 
violence against the non-Bengalis whose houses and shops were red- 
marked in the preceding week. In the third week of March, the Bengali 
rebels launched a full-blast campaign of terror and violence against the 
small non-Bengali population. In the night of March 23, which was 
observed by the Awami League as 'Resistance Day' to hurl defiance at the 
federal Government, killer mobs, led by the armed Awami League 
militants, ransacked non-Bengali houses and indulged in wanton slaughter 
of the non-Bengali men. The pogrom continued with savage ferocity all 
through the last week of March and right up to April 27, 1971, when the 
Army recovered Serajganj from the insurgents. 

The most gruesome orgy of violence against the non-Bengalis was 
the burning of 350 hapless old man, women and children who were herded 
in a school building by the rebels late in March 1971. Killer gangs, blazing 
guns, broke into the houses of non-Bengalis and gunned all the male 
inmates to death. The bereaved women and children were marched at 
gunpoint to this improvised prison house. Before the Army re-occupied 
Serajganj on April 27, the rebels set fire to this building and all the non- 
Bengalis trapped in it were burnt to death. No survivors remained to tell the 
full story of this beastly act. 

The exact death toll of the non-Bengalis in Serajganj in the March- 
April 1971 massacre will never be known because their dead bodies were 
tossed by the hundreds into the Brahmaputra River. Many of the non- 
Bengali victims were executed by their captors on the bank of the river and 
their bodies were thrown into the water. After the federal troops re- 
captured Serajganj, heaps of mutilated and burnt dead bodies of the non- 
Bengali victims of the Awami Leagues terror were found in houses which 
had been looted and burnt. Many destitute and orphaned non-Bengali 
children and their widowed mothers were taken to Dacca and lodged in 
camps. Some were sent to Khulna where the non-Bengalis had made 
arrangements to rehabilitate them. 



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CHAPTER THIRTY 

Woes of Comilla 



In the middle of March 1971, tension between the Bengalis and the non- 
Bengalis in Comilla reached an alarming pitch. Fibs and yarns invented by 
the Awami League activists and the hostile broadcasts of All India Radio 
were a major factor in the creation of tension. Mutineers from the East 
Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles worked in concert with the 
Awami League cadres. Roving bands of armed Awami League militants 
had marked the houses occupied by non-Bengalis. In the third week of 
March, the insurgents went on the rampage, looting the homes of non- 
Bengalis and slaying those who resisted. Eye-wimcsses said that at least 
4,000 non-Bengalis were butchered by the insurrectionists and their 
supporters before the Pakistan Army regained control over Comilla early in 
April. 

Abu Saeed, 29, who lived with his brother, Qamruddin, in his well- 
furnished house on Kazi Nazrul Islam Road in Comilla, gave the following 
heart-rending account of the murder of five members of his family in the 
third week of March 1971: 

"My elder brother, Qamruddin, was a well-to-do businessman. We 
had migrated to East Pakistan from India early in 1948. All of us 
had learnt the Bengali language and we were fluent in it. Our 
relations with our Bengali neighbours were excellent. Political 
developments in Dacca had their impact on Comilla, and the non- 
Bengalis felt uneasy. Qamruddin' s family consisted of his wife, his 
two College-going sons and his teenage daughter. Our aged mother 
also lived with us. On March 23, we were startled by the sound of 
gunfire. We saw in the distance a group of armed men advancing 
towards our house. Some houses and shops were on fire. The 
Bengali gunmen yelled outside our house. My brother, Qamruddin, 
spoke to them in Bengali and appealed for mercy. A burst of bullets 
was their response. They broke the front door and again opened 
fire. My brother collapsed in a pool of blood. My two nephews 
grappled with the intruders and lost their lives. As their wailing 
mother leaned over their lifeless, blood- splashed bodies, a bullet 
from a guman's rifle killed her. While the Bengali raiders were 
busy in looting the house, I escaped into the backyard through a 

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window and lay still in the bushes. I heard the shrieks of my young 
niece who was still in the house but I was too scared to go to her 
help. I heard the report of gunshots. Around midnight I tiptoed into 
the house; it was a ghasdy sight. The only survivor was my aged 
mother who had fainted. In the early hours of the morning she 
regained consciousness. In my brother's bedroom lay the dead body 
of my niece; her hands were tied with a rope and her clothes were 
torn. I learnt from my mother that the girl had resisted her violaters 
who had taken turns to rape her. Before leaving, the killers had 

strangled her to death 

"Comilla experienced a reign of terror all through March 1971. 
Non-Bengalis were liquidated by the thousands; many pro-Pakistan 
Bengalis, who were known to have voted against the Awami 
League in the December 1970 general election, were singled out for 
torture by the insurgents. Peace and order returned to Comilla after 
the Pakistan Army re-established its audiority early in April. But in 
December, after the victory of the Indian Army and the Mukti 
Bahini, many of the non-Bengali survivors of the March, 1971 
slaughter were murdered. Late in 1972, I escaped to Nepal after 
bribing the Mukti Bahini. In April 1973, I succeeded in reaching 
Karachi " 



Equally harrowing was the account which 23-year-old Akhter Rashid 
gave of the March 1971 killing of non-Bengalis in Comilla: 

"My father, Abdur Rashid, had a contract for the supply of food to 
the Pakistan Army garrison in Comilla. We lived in New Market 
and I was a student. Most of our neighbours were non-Bengalis. 
Our relations with the Bengalis were friendly. Tension in Comilla 
exploded on March 22 when a blood-thirsty mob of yelling Awami 
Leaguers and insurgents of the East Pakistan Rifles went on a 
killing spree shortly after sunset. They ransacked all the houses 
occupied by non-Bengalis in our locality and killed the menfolk, 
almost without exception. My father was out of town on the day of 
the massacre. I did not go home and hid myself for the evening in a 
dilapidated house. Around midnight when I reached my home, I 
was shocked to find that my teenage sister, Shirin, had disappeared 
and our house had been looted. There was not a soul in the 
neighbourhood. I saw dead bodies lying in pools of blood at some 

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places. I was terrified. My father returned to Comilla after our 
troops had regained control over it. The kidnapping of my sister, 
Shirin, was a severe blow to him. We scoured the whole of Comilla 
district in April and May, 1971 in search of Shirin. Late in 1972, I 
decided to leave East Pakistan and persuaded my father to 
accompany me. But he refused and said that he would continue the 
search for his missing daughter until his last breath. I escaped to 
Nepal, and in June 1973, I came to Karachi. In Kathmandu, I was 
told that the Bengali insurgents, who had kidnapped non-Bengali 
girls in Comilla district, had taken them to India where most of 
them were sold to brothels for prostitution. The fear that this might 
have been Shirin' s tragic fate is gnawing my soul." 



The two eye-witnesses from Comilla reported that a sizable element 
among the Awami League militants was of Bengali Hindus. As soon as 
Pakistan Army reinforcements reached Comilla early in April, the Awami 
League activists and the para-military Bengali insurgents fled to 
neighbouring India. They carried with them the loot which they had 
collected from the homes of non-Bengalis and the Government Treasury. 
The federal troops conducted the mass burial of hundreds of rotting dead 
bodies of non-Bengalis who were murdered by the Bengali insurgents in 
March 1971. Indian propagandists and Awami League fibsters, who were 
ensconced in India, duped the world by fabricating the yarn that these 
graves were of Bengalis killed by the federal troops. Comilla was the 
headquarters of the 9 th Division of the Pakistan Army; its officers and men 
were disciplined soldiers who had instructions not to shoot unless they 
were shot at. Many of the Bengali rebels, who had plundered and killed the 
non-Bengalis in Comilla, retreated to Feni. An Army brigade, sent from 
Comilla, mopped up the insurgents at Feni. Some escaped with their 
weapons, across the border, to India. 

Witnesses from Comilla said that the Awami League rebels had 
occupied the Comilla Telephone Exchange on March 3, 1971 and snapped 
Comilla telephone links with the rest of the province. The same day, a train 
from Bhairab to Laksham was stopped by a mob at Comilla and the rebels 
tried to burn it but the presence of mind and courage of the Railway staff 
on duty saved it from disaster. Some 300 prisoners lodged in the Jail in 
Comilla town tried to escape on March 12 and loyal prison guards opened 
fire on them to prevent the jail-break. An armed mob raided a field unit of 

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the Pakistan Army at Feni, near Comilla, but the troops repulsed the attack. 

In the middle of March 1971, rioting spread to a number of tea 
gardens in the Comilla district. Incited by the Awami League militants, 
many Bengali labourers in the tea gardens attacked the West Pakistani, 
Bihari and other non-Bengali staff and their families. 

An Awami League gang burnt Pakistan's national flag at 
Shamshernagar on March 13. A section of the police, which was loyal until 
then, arrested the culprits. The Aawmi League leaders tried to smash their 
way into the prison to free the detained men. 

AKHAURA 

Heavy loss of non-Bengali lives was reported from Akhaura, an 
important railway station. In the last week of March 1971, a killer gang 
raided the Railway station and the quarters of the non-Bengali employees 
and slaughtered a number of non-Bengali men. One of the non-Bengalis 
killed by the Awami League militants and rebels from the East Pakistan 
Rifles was the Station Master of Akhaura, Mr. Laiq Akhtar who had kept 
the Railway station functioning all through the troubled month of March 
1971. Witnesses said they had heard that the Station Master had 
courageously resisted the attackers and put up a brave fight. The Awami 
League rebels also murdered a number of well-to-do non-Bengali 
businessmen in Akhaura. The rebels kidnapped many non-Bengali girls 
and ravished them. As Akhaura is close to the Indian border, the Bengali 
rebels and their Awami League confederates escaped to India after the 
federal Army re-established its authority over it. The non-Bengali 
population in Akhaura was so heavily abridged in March 1971 that there 
were not many non-Bengalis left to tell the full story of the massacre there. 



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CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 

Grief in Brahmanbaria 



The population of non-Bengalis in the town of Brahmanbaria was small. 
Most of them had come from the Indian State of Bihar at the time of 
Partition in 1947. They had learnt the Bengali language. They were mostly 
traders; some were employed in commercial firms. 

In the third week of March 1971, the Aw ami League militants and 
the rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal Regiment 
began intimidating the non-Bengalis. On March 23, some shops of non- 
Bengalis were looted and burnt by riotous mobs. The local police gave no 
protection to the non-Bengalis. On March 26, the Bengali insurgents 
launched a full-scale attack on the non-Bengalis. Their houses were 
ransacked by armed gangs. Many non-Bengalis who resisted the hoodlums 
were shot deed. The attackers included the rebel soldiers from the East 
Bengal Regiment who were armed with machine guns and bazookas. They 
indulged in wanton destruction of property owned by the non-Bengalis. 

At gunpoint, some 500 Biharis — aged men, women and children 
— were driven out of their homes by the insurgents and herded in the 
dingy jail in Brahmanbaria. The insurgents had killed most of the Bihari 
young men. Inside the prison, the Bihari hostages were the victims of 
inhuman brutality. Many hungry children who cried for food and water 
were slain by the trigger-happy prison guards. Dozens of Bihari girls were 
spirited away at night by the secessionist gunmen and their protesting 
relatives were beaten up with rifle butts and truncheons. For days on end, 
the Bihari hostages had no food to eat. Quite a few died of hunger and 
thirst inside this veritable inferno. 

On April 17, 1971, as a column of the Pakistan Army closed in on 
Brahmanbaria and the Bengali insurgents retreated, the jail was turned into 
a slaughter-house by the mutineers. The rebel company commander of the 
East Bengal Regiment ordered the execution of all the non-Bengalis lodged 
in the jail. Just before sunset, a dozen Bengali machine-gunners wiped out 
every non-Bengali inside the prison. After accomplishing the massacre of 
the innocents, the hatchet-men made a bee-line for the Indian border. "We 
had never even dreamt of such butchery", said the Pakistani soldiers who 
buried the murdered Biharis the next day. 

The Sunday Times of London, in its issue of May 2, 1971, reported 

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the gory killing of the non-Bengalis in Brahmanbaria after its Pakistan 
Correspondent, Anthony Mascarenhas, had visited the battle-scarred 
town in the preceding month: 

"At Brahmanbaria, across the border from the Indian State of 
Tripura, I found the bodies of 82 children who had been lined up 
and shot. About 300 other non-Bengali bodies were scattered 
around the jail where they had been housed after the Bengali 
convicts had been freed. They had been shot dead by the rebels 
before the rebels fled in front of the West Pakistani advance". 

"I saw Indians from Agartala in India carrying arms and 
ammunition to the Awami League rebels in Brahmanbaria", said Kalu 
Meah, 45, who worked as a porter at the Brahmanbaria railway station. 
Repatriated to Karachi in November 1973, Kalu Meah said that he escaped 
the massacre of non-Bengalis by hiding in an abandoned goods wagon at 
the Brahmanbaria Railway station for a week early in April 1971. 

Kalu Meah said that all his relatives in Brahmanbaria, Comilla, and 
Bhairab Bazar were slaughtered late in March and early in April 1971. A 
widower, he had a son who was butchered in Comilla while his younger 
brother was killed in Bhairab Bazar. Kalu Meah testified: 

"The Awami Leaguers had close contact with the Indian military 
people in Agartala which was not far away. All through the period 
of their insurgency, they used to get arms and ammunition from 
Agartala. I saw many Indians, carrying weapons, moving about 
freely in Brahmanbaria in the company of the Awami League 
insurgents. The killer gangs wiped out most of the non-Bengali 
Railway employees and their families. All through March, non- 
Bengalis travelling in trains were victimised; many were killed and 
thrown from running trains" 



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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO 

Turmoil in Bogra, Naogaon 

The Awami League militants and the mutineers of the East Pakistan 
Rifles had seized control of Bogra town in the second week of March 1971. 
They looted the shops owned by non-Bengalis and extorted money from 
the owners at gunpoint. One of their many acts of lawlessness and violence 
was the storming of the jail. They let loose all the prisoners and inducted 
many of the notorious jailbirds into the rebel ranks. The crescendo of the 
Awami League's violence and xenophobia gained in intensity after the 
freed prisoners swung to their side. 

Some non-Bengali yourg men were lynched in the streets. Their 
parents were manhandled. On March 26, wilier gangs of Awami Leaguers 
and rebel soldiers, fired by a gencidal frenzy, exterminated vast multitudes 
of non-Bengalis — men, women and children. Their houses were burnt 
after being looted; teenage girls were kidnapped by the hundreds; many 
were savaged and raped. Some 700 non-Bengali men, women and children, 
driven out of their homes by Awami League gunmen, were herded early in 
April, 1971, in the Bogra Jail. The Bengali rebels who were routed in battle 
by the advancing federal Army planned to blow up the jail with dynamite 
before abandoning the town. But the timely arrival of the Pakistan Army 
saved this tortured mass of humanity from being blown to smithereens. 

Hakim Ashrafullah, 59, who practised the Eastern system of 
Medicine in Bogra since 1951 and whose only son was butchered by a 
killer gang late in March 1971, said: 

"My ancestral home was in Lucknow where my father, Hakim 
Barkatullah, was respected for his deep knowledge of Eastern 
Medicine. I spent a part of my youth in Calcutta. After Partition in 
1947, 1 migrated to Dacca, and in 1951, Bogra became my home. I 
liked the town and its people. I attained considerable success in my 
practice of Eastern Medicine. I was popularly known as "Chacha" 
(Uncle) and I had hundreds of Bengali and non-Bengali friends. 
During the presidency of Ayub Khan I was elected a Basic 
Democrat and the Bengali vote for me was massive 

"In the last week of March, Bogra became a welter of fire and gore 

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for many thousands of non-Bengalis. The killings continued all 
through the first half of April. My son was employed in a local soap 
factory; he and all the other non-Bengalis were brutally killed. I 
never found his dead body; I learnt that it was flung into a burning 
house. This was a common practice followed by the killer gangs for 
getting rid of the heaps of dead bodies of non-Bengalis. Pregnant 
women were bayoneted to death; teenage girls were assaulted and 
those who resisted their captors were strangled or tossed into 
derelict wells. I was sheltered and saved by a Bengali neighbour 
whom I had treated in past years. He cried over the madness that 
had overtaken many of his compatriots. But he was powerless 
before the fury and ruthlessness of the killer mobs which were after 
the blood of the non-Bengalis. Similar was the plight and 
helplessness of a vast number of decent Bengalis who were shocked 
and grieved by the carnage of non-Bengalis. I escaped to Nepal in 

1972, soon after the Indian Army grabbed East Pakistan. In June 

1973, I reached Karachi. The death toll of non-Bengalis in the 
March- April 1971 butchery in Bogra town was in the 
neighbourhood of 3,000." 

In Naogaon, a small town near the Bogra district, most of the non- 
Bengali community of 4,000 were liquidated between March 25 and April 
20, 1971. Awami League militants and rebel soldiers barricaded the roads 
leading to the localities where the non-Bengalis were concentrated. On 
March 26, the killer gangs looted and burnt the houses of non-Bengalis and 
mowed them with gunfire. The only survivors of this massacre were some 
fifty young women who were paraded in the Bazar almost in the nude. 
They were lodged in well-guarded houses where the rebel Bengali soldiers 
took turns to rape them. Just before their retreat in. the face of the 
advancing federal Army, the rebels killed these unfortunate girls. It took 
the Pakistan Army many days to bury the dead bodies which were strewn 
all over the town. A few injured survivors, who literally rose from heaps of 
dead bodies, said that some of the killers were definitely Bengali 
infiltrators from India. 



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CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE 

Horror in Santahar 



The Railway junction town of Santahar in Bogra district felt the 
tremors of the Awami League's uprising in Dacca since the early days of 
March, 1971. The Awami League militants fabricated and spread rumours 
that Pakistan Army contingents and West Pakistanis had killed Bengalis in 
Dacca and other towns. These rumours were designed to incite Bengalis 
against the non-Bengali community in Santahar. The volcano of tension 
exploded on March 25 when armed Awami Leaguers and the mutineers of 
the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal Regiment let loose a reign of 
terror on the non-Bengalis. Out of nearly 22,000 non-Bengalis resident in 
Santahar, it is estimated that more than 15,000 were slaughtered by the 
rebels before a column of the Pakistan Army re-occupied the town on April 
27, 1971. At the Santahar Railway Station, many hundreds of non-Bengali 
employees and their families were done to death by the rebels. A killer 
gang gunned 65 non-Bengalis who were praying in a Mosque on March 26, 
1971. In another Mosque, some 70 non-Bengali momen, whose fathers or 
husbands had been slaughtered, were assaulted by rapists who were said to 
be Bengali Hindu infiltrators from India. In the second week of April, 
1971, a rebel gang paraded 60 non-Bengali girls almost in the nude. Some 
of these unfortunate girls were whisked away to India by their retreating 
captors. Those lucky non-Bengalis who survived the March-April, 1971, 
killings were butchered by the Mukti Bahini after December 17, 1971. 

Thirty-year-old Nafisa Khatoon, whose husband, Mohammed 
Zaheeruddin, owned a cloth shop in Santahar and was killed by the 
insurgents, described the tragedy that made her a sorrowing widow in these 
poignant words: 

"It was the forenoon of March 25. Scared by the tension which 
prevailed in Santahar, my husband did not go to the cloth shop 
which was located in the commercial hub of the town. Word 
reached us that miscreants had looted his shop. All of a sudden, a 
dozen armed Bengalis broke into our house. My husband tried to 
plead with them and uttered to give them all the cash and jewellery 
in our home. I cried aloud and begged them for mercy. My two 

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little children, white with fear, slipped under a table. The killers 
dragged my husband into the compound and shot him dead. It was 
the end of the world for me when I saw him slump to the ground 
and a stream of blood spurted from his head and chest. I fainted. 
When I woke up, I found my orphaned children wailing over the 
cold-blooded murder of their father. They had seen his dead 
body 

"The killers ransacked my house; all the cash and every valuable 
was gone. They stole even my wedding ring. Late at night, I 
wrapped my husband's dead body with white bedsheets and a 
neighbour earned it to the graveyard for burial. Dressed as a rustic 
Bengali woman, I slipped out of my house with my two children 
the next morning. I headed for Parbatipur where some relatives of 
my husband lived. The trek was an ordeal; we had painful blisters 
on our feet; the children were hungry. We saw dead bodies on the 
wayside and in the streams. Roving bands of Awami League 
murderers were at large. They were after the blood of non-Bengalis. 
We reached Parbatipur, almost dead with hunger and fatigue. We 
could not locate our relatives; the massacre of non-Bengalis had 
taken place in Parbatipur also. But a life-saver for us was the news 
that a contingent of the Pakistan Army had entered the outworks of 
the town. The Awami League insurgents fled. Our troops looked 
after us for two days and then sent us to Dacca where we lived in a 
Relief Camp in the Mohamrnedpur locality " 

After December 17, 1971, when the Indian Army and the Mukti 
Bahmi entered Dacca, life again became a nightmare for Nafisa Khatoon 
and her children. The conditions in the Relief Camp in Mohamrnedpur in 
Dacca were miserable. The handouts of food to Nafisa and her children 
were skimpy. On February 2, 1974, they were repatriated to Karachi in a 
United Nations aircraft. "God answered our prayers; we are safe in 
Pakistan", said Nafisa. More than three years of horror and misery had 
aged Nafisa and her hair had turned grey. 



Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Shakoor, whose father, Mohammed 
Shafeeq, was brutally killed by a gang of Awami League militants on 
March 25, 1971, had this grim recollection: 

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"My father was employed as a truck driver in Santahar. He spoke 
Bengali very well and he had put me in a school where the medium 
of instruction was Bengali. We had no quarrel with our Bengali 
neighbours. Our house was on the outskirts of the town ard nearby 
was a graveyard. In the morning of March 25, I went to school and 
attended my classes. Some of my Bengali schoolmates called me a 
Bihari although I spoke Bengali as well as they did. At 2 p.m. I left 
the school and walked towards my home. As I reached the 
graveyard, I saw a group of miscreants, armed with guns ard 
knives, storming my mudhouse. I was scared and I hid behind the 
walls of a grave. After a few minutes I heard the shrieks of my 
father. I peered through a hole in the wall and saw the killers 
dragging him out of the house. He was bleeding profusely. They 
tied him with ropes to the trunk of a tree and stabbed him in the 
chest and the belly. He was dead. These accursed men looted our 
house. At the point of a gun, they forced my mother and my little 
sister to follow them in the direction of a nearby village. This was 
the last I saw of them. For a month, I lived in the graveyard in 
horror and terror. I saw the spectre of death all over the place. I ate 
wild fruits and slaked my thirst at night with muddy water from a 
nearby stream. I was sick. I often heard the roar of guns and the 
whining of bullets. Late in April, troops of the Pakistan Army 
entered Santahar. They buried the dead body of my father in the 
graveyard and sent me to Dacca where I stayed in the Relief Camp 
at Mohammedpur. They searched the entire neighbourhood to 
retrieve my mother and sister but there was no trace of them. After 
the Indian Army ard the Mukti Bahini captured Dacca on December 
17, 1971, life again became a torture for me. I was penniless and I 
had no relatives and friends. God was my only anchor of hope and I 
prayed every night. On January 29, 1974, the United Nations airlift 
brought me to Pakistan — to safety and freedom." 



The agony of the past three years was writ large on the face of 
Shakoor. His knees trembled as he spoke of the impaling of his father by 
his killers and the traumatic days and nights he spent in the graveyard 
before the Pakistan Army rescued him. 

Twenty-seven-year-old Qamrunnissa, whose husband, Abdul 

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Majid, was killed by the Bengali insurgents in Santahar in the last week of 
March 1971, gave the following account of her agony and suffering: 

"In the third week of March, the Awami League activists and their 
supporters had set up a so-called Peace Committee in Santahar. In 
the name of the Peace Committee, they called upon the non- 
Bengalis to surrender their firearms and other weapons. Believing 
the Awami Leaguers' assurances of protection, the non-Bengalis 
handed over to them whatever weapons they had. On March 25, a 
big mob of armed rebels raided our locality. They set fire to some 
houses; they fired their guns indiscriminately to frighten us. Some 
fifty cut-throats, armed with rifles, daggers, spears and staves, 
rushed into my house and brutally killed my husband, my three 
brothers-in laws, my father-in-law and my teenage nephew. We 
begged the killers to spare the lives of our dear ones. I clasped the 
dead body of my husband and wailed over it. The brutes hit me 
with the butt of a rifle and almost broke my arm. They pulled me by 
the hair and dragged me outside the house. My legs were singed 
and I could hardly walk. At the point of their blazing guns, they 
marched me and many other wailirg Bihari and Punjabi women to 
the Railway Station. They forced us to hand over to them the 
ornaments some of us wore. Many of the girls were raped by their 
inhuman captors 

"In the last week of April, I and a few other women escaped from 
the captivity of these brutes. My feet were blistered but we 
succeeded in reaching a cluster of shady trees on the bank of a 
river. Our captors launched a search for us but a squall hit the area 
and these human hounds could not trace us. The next day our 
prayers were answered by the Almighty and the Pakistan Army 
entered Santahar. The federal troops rescued us. They took us to 
Naogaon where my wounds were treated and, later on, I was taken 
to Dacca and lodged in a Relief Camp". 



Qamrunnissa was shifted to Chittagong in mid- 1971 and lived with 
her parents. In February 1974, she was repatriated to Karachi. "Even now I 
am harried by dreadful dreams; I see those thugs killing my dear husband; I 
see them chasing me with their blazing guns", she moaned. 

Amanullah Khan, 26, who lived in Quarter No. 195 in the 

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Railway (Loco) Colony in Santahar, had this harrowing recollection of the 
massacre of non-Bengalis in March, 1971: 

"In the evening of March 26, a large gang of armed Awami 
Leaguers attacked our residential colony in which non-Bengalis 
were in the majority. Some of the non-Bengalis had weapons, and 
we exchanged gunfire with the attackers all through the night. Early 
the next morning, the non-Bengalis moved to the Railway Station, 
and some old men, women and children sought refuge in the 
Mosque which was only 200 yard away. Those of us who had 
weapons had no ammunition left. So we were defenceless. In the 
forenoon, a hundred Bengali rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles 
came to the Railway station and forcibly took away whatever 
weapons we had. At noon, we learnt that the rebels had looted the 
Ranipur Police Station and had killed all the non-Bengalis there. 
We were panicky. In the afternoon of March 27, about seven 
hundred armed Awami Leaguers and rebel soldiers stormed the 
Mosque near the Railway Station and gunned to death all the non- 
Bengalis sheltered in it. After the Pakistan Army re-occupied 
Santhar, 53 dead bodies of non-Bengali men, women and children 
were found strewn all over the Mosque. The houses of non- 
Bengalis had been looted and burnt; there were very few survivors. 
I had witnessed the gruesome massacre of the non-Bengalis in the 
Mosque from the window of a store room in the Railway Station. I 
escaped to Nepal after India's seizure of East Pakistan. In 
September 1973, I came to Karachi. I am convinced that many of 
the rebel soldiers, who mowed down the non-Bengalis in the 
Mosque, were, in reality, armed infiltrators from India." 

"Six Bengali hoodlums, claiming to be soldiers of the Mukti Bahini, 
grabbed me when I was giving a woollen sweater to an ill-clad Pakistani 
prisoner-of-war in Santahar in the third week of December 1971", said 55- 
year-old Ghulam Rasool, a Railway employee based at Parbatipur, who 
was on duty on that day in Santahar. Ghulam Rasool had escaped the 
March 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis at Parbatipur but suffering was in 
store for him late in December 1971 at the hands of the Mukti Bahini. 
Repatriated to Karachi from Dacca m February 1974, he said: 



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"The Mukti Bahini, after the fall of Dacca to the Indian Army on 
December 17, 1971, had ordered its followers in Santahar to 
slaughter every adult male non-Bengali. Some Sikh soldiers of the 
Indian Army tried to persuade the Mukti Bahini not to indulge in 
wanton killing. I was in mortal agony when I saw the Pakistani 
soldiers, who had surrendered to the Indian Army, being marched 
to the POWs camp on route to India. It was winter and, sadly, the 
Pakistani soldiers were being marched barefooted. Some of them 
did not have warm clothes. A few Biharis broke the cordon and 
gave woollen sweaters to our soldiers. Realising that it would 
endanger the lives of the givers, the Pakistani soldiers motioned 
them not to do so. I had also given a sweater to a soldier. The next 
minute, six Bengali hoodlums grabbed me and threw me into a 
dungeon where dead bodies, chopped limbs of human victims and 
filth were littered on the floor. It was a slaughter house used by the 
Mukti Bahini for murdering their victims. There were many other 
non-Bengali captives in this stinkirg black hole. The Mukti Bahini 
guards slapped and kicked me and threatened that I would be shot. 
In the evening, a posse of Indian soldiers visited this dungeon and 
freed the non-Bengali captives. As I had no home or place to live in 
Santahar, I requested that I should be allowed to stay for the night 
in the local Jail which, although full of Biharis and pro-Pakistan 
Bengalis, was less unsafe. The next day, I left for Parbatipnr and 
reached it after a perilous md trying journey". 



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EPILOGUE 



The sheaves of eyewitness accounts, documented in this book, prove 
beyond the shadow of a doubt that the massacre of West Pakistanis, Biharis 
and other non-Bengalis in East Pakistan had begun long before the 
Pakistan Army took punitive action against the rebels late in the night of 
March 25, 1971. It is also crystal clear that the Awami League's terror 
machine was the initiator and executor of the genocide against the non- 
Bengalis which exterminated at least half a million of them in less than two 
months of horror and trauma. Many witnesses have opined that the federal 
Government acted a bit too late against the insurgents. The initial success 
of the federal military action is proved by the fact that in barely 30 days, 
the Pakistan Army, with a combat strength of 38,717 officers and men in 
East Pakistan, had squelched the Awami League's March- April, 1971, 
rebellion all over the province. 



The rebellion was master-minded, by the hardcore, pro-India 
leadership of the Awami League, a regional political party which initially 
campaigned for provincial autonomy but subsequently espoused the 
secession of the eastern province from the federal union. The Awami 
League had won the majority of seats reserved for the province of East 
Pakistan in the constitution-making National Assembly and the East 
Pakistan Legislative Assembly in the countrywide December, 1970, 
general elections. But it had no legislative support in the four provinces of 
West Pakistan. In wooing the electorate in East Pakistan before the polls, 
the Awami League committed itself to the concept of a single Pakistani 
nationhood by proclaiming in its election manifesto "Pakistan shall be a 
federation, granting full autonomy to each of the federating units". Having 
secured the confidence of the majority of the voters in East Pakistan on the 
platform of autonomy within the framework of a united Pakistan, the 
militant ruling caucus in the Awami League took to the path of rebellion 
and secession of East Pakistan from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It 
unloosed terrible orgies of killing and destructicn of the non-Bengali ethnic 
minority to which the generic name of Biharis was given by their 
tormentors. After the federal Army crushed the Awami League's revolt, 
most of its hardcore leaders and followers sought sanctuary in India's 
protective lap and invoked its massive military and financial support for 

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their secessionist campaign. 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Seizing it as the golden opportunity of the century to undo Pakistan, 
India used the Bengali rebels, it had trained and armed, for the war of 
attrition against Pakistan in its eastern wing for some nine months. After 
the Bengali guerrillas had been used by India as cannon fodder to soften 
the Pakistani defences in East Pakistan, Indian tanks, guns and troops 
rolled over the border on November 22, 1971, to accomplish India's armed 
grab of East Pakistan and the establishment of its client state of 
Bangladesh. India's Bengali surrogates, who operated the Indian-propped, 
Calcutta-based Government of Bangladesh, were installed in Dacca as the 
new rulers of Bangladesh on December 17, 1971 by the victorious Indian 
Army. On January 8, 1972, President Bhutto of Pakistan freed Sheikh 
Mujibur Rahman and sent him from Rawalpindi in a PIA Boeing to 
London en route to Dacca where he took over the leadership of the new 
Bengali state. He made a public declaration, soon after his return to Dacca, 
that for the past quarter of a century he had been working for the separation 
and independence of Pakistan' s eastern wing. 

The Government of Pakistan had issued, belatedly, in August 1971, 
a White Paper on the East Pakistan crisis which gave a chronological 
synopsis of the macabre happenings in East Pakistan during the murderous 
months of March and April, 1971. It gave the following rationale for the 
federal military action in East Pakistan against the Awami League 
secessionists and their rebel cohorts: 

"On the night of March 25/26, a few hours before the Awami 
League plan for an armed uprising and launching of the 
independent Republic of Bangladesh was to be put into effect, the 
President of Pakistan called upon the Armed forces to do their duty 
and fully restore the authority of the Government in East 
Pakistan 



"The federal army took the initiative and thwarted the Awami 
League plan for the armed takeover of East Pakistan through armed 
infiltrators from India and subverted elements in the East Bengal 
Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles, the police and Para-military 
forces " 

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The White Paper bared these highlights of the Awami League' s operational 
plan for the armed revolt in East Pakistan which was due to be triggered 
full-blast in the small hours of March 26, 1971: 

a) Troops of the East Bengal Regiment would occupy Dacca and 
Chittagong to prevent the landing of Pakistan Army units by air or 
sea; 



b) the remaining troops of the East Bengal Regiment, with the help of 
the East Pakistan Rifles, the police and the armed Razakaars 
(Volunteer Corps) would swiftly move to eliminate the federal 
armed forces in various cantonments and stations; 

c) the East Pakistan Rifles would occupy all the key posts of the 
border and keep them open for aid from outside; 

d) requirements of more arms and ammunition would be met with 
supplies from India, and 

e) Indian troops would come to the assistance of the Awami League 
rebel force once it succeeded in the first phase of occupying key 
centres and paralysing the Pakistan Army. 

What Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his pro-India caucus in the Awami 
League failed to achieve in March because of the daring, pre-emptive strike 
by the federal Army was accomplished for them by their Indian 
benefactors in the third week of December, 1971. The secession plan was 
in fact conceived in June, 1964. when the Sheikh and his associates, 
according to the prosecution's charge-sheet in the secessionist Agartala 
conspiracy trial of 1968, held their first major conspiratorial conclave in 
Dacca in the house of Tajuddin Ahmed — the hardliner whom India made, 
in April, 1971, the Prime Minister of the Indian sponsored and Indian- 
financed Government of Bangladesh in Calcutta. According to the 
prosecution's charge-sheet, it was in this meeting of the conspirators that 
the name of Bangladesh was coined for the independent Bengali state that 
was to be established in East Pakistan with Indian funds and arms. It was 
also in this meeting that the design of the flag of Bangladesh, which Sheikh 

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Mujibur Rahman saw ceremoniously, unfurled at a Dacca rally on March 
23, 1971, was presented for approval. The Sheikh was not exonerated of 
the charges of secession levelled against him in the Agartala conspiracy 
case; the trial was abandoned in February 1969, by the Ayub regime under 
political pressure from opposition parties. In the election year of 1970, 
India's clandestine financial support to the Awami League was a major 
factor in the party's affluence and its well-lubricated, highly efficient 
organizational apparatus. 

The Awami League employed fascist techniques in its operations for 
power grab. Its leaders and their followers used strong-arm methods to 
terrorise their rival parties. All through the election year of 1970, scores of 
attacks by the Awami Leaguers on their political adversaries were reported 
in the press. The Awami League had won over a section of the Bengali 
bureaucracy in East Pakistan with lavish promises of speedy promotions 
and other fringe benefits once it came to power. Unlike its political rivals, 
the Awami League suffered from no shortage of funds. Money flowed into 
its coffers from generous India. It also enjoyed a rich harvest of protection 
money from the West Pakistani industrialists who owned factories in East 
Pakistan and who thought that bribing the Awami League was an insurance 
against labour tantrums. An excellent organizer, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 
had no difficulty in recruiting into his militant outfit tough young men 
specially trained in breaking up meetings, manhandling opponents and in 
other cloak-and-dagger tactics of political combat. The Awami League's 
leadership showed a fascist intolerance for the Opposition and had no 
qualms of conscience in ruthlessly liquidating its rivals. The ouster of Mrs. 
Amena Begum, a one-time President of the Awami League, from the party 
at the behest of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is one of the many examples of 
the Nazi-style manner in which he ran the Awami League. Even the 
organizational set-up of the Awami League, during nearly two decades of 
its operation, did not substantiate the party's pretensions to democracy. The 
Awami League's public meetings were organized as massive displays of its 
political strength in Dacca. The party cadres used to hire hundreds of 
trucks and even charter train services for transporting villagers to Dacca to 
pack the audience ranks in the public meetings and rallies of the Awami 
League. 



The theme song of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his firebrands was 

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invariably the charge of exploitation of East Pakistan by West Pakistan. 
Typical of the highly emotive and inflammatory speeches with which 
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman injected animus against West Pakistan in the 
minds of his Bengali supporters was his speech at Hazaribagh Park on 
March 11, 1970 when he accused West Pakistan of looting the wealth of 
East Pakistan. Aside from preaching hymns of hate against West Pakistan, 
the leaders of the Awami League mis-represented to the people in East 
Pakistan every action of the federal authorities and distorted facts and 
figures to buttress their arguments for autonomy bordering on virtual 
independence. After the cyclone tragedy of November 1970 in the coastal 
belt of East Pakistan, the Awami League leaders and their newspaper 
mouthpieces invented countless false charges of callousness and 
misappropriation of aid for the cyclone sufferers against the federal 
officials posted in the province. 

The charge against the Awami League leaders that while they wooed 
the electorate in 1970 on the platform of autonomy, after their electoral 
success in East Pakistan, they shifted their position and demanded a 
virtually independent Bangladesh has substance in it. The first point of the 
Awami League's six-point programme of autonomy categorically said that 
"the character of the Government shall be federal and parliamentary", 
implying that Pakistan would be a federation and not a confederation, In 
his election speeches in 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman assured the voters 
that he wanted only provincial autonomy and not the disintegration of 
Pakistan or any dilution of its Islamic character. On September 21, 1970, in 
a public address at Narayanganj, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said: 

"The six-point programme would be realised and at the same time 
neither the integrity of Pakistan nor Islam would be jeopardised." 



After the Awami League's electoral victory in East Pakistan in 
December 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speeches betrayed signs of a 
shift in his autonomy stance. He declared bluntly that his six points were 
not negotiable. It appeared that he had started toying with the idea of 
making his Bangladesh an independent state. The draft constitution, which 
his constitutional experts wrote early in 1971 with the object of railroading 
it through the National Assembly soon after its convocation, sought to 
whittle down the powers of the federal government to such an extent that 

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Pakistan would then have been a confederation of virtually independent 
states and not a federation. Two of its well-known provisions, which 
militated against all canons of federalism, were that (a) the federal 
government would handle foreign affairs minus foreign trade and aid, and 
(b) all federal taxes would be collected by the provincial governments and 
not by the federal government. Such provisions are alien to the concept of 
federalism and do not exist in the constitution of any truly federal state. 
The Awami League's proposal for two separate constituent conventions 
"for the purpose of framing constitutions for the state of Bangladesh and 
for the states of West Pakistan" was undoubtedly a constitutional formula 
for the eventual secession of East Pakistan from the fold of the federation. 
Under this constitutional formula, the Awami League demanded for 
Bangladesh the power to sign treaties and agreements of foreign trade and 
aid in total disregard of the federal government and to maintain trade 
representatives overseas. This was the platform of independence, not of 
provincial autonomy. The rigid stand of the Awami League leaders and 
their refusal to budge even an inch from their demand for virtual 
independence for Bangladesh wrecked the constitutional talks in Dacca in 
the third week of March 1971. 

General Yahya Khan's postponement of the National Assembly's 
inaugural session, scheduled for March 3, 1971, was a temporary measure. 
It was intended to give more time to the political leaders to devise a 
consensus on the form and shape of the proposed constitution instead of 
openly wrangling in the forum of the National Assembly. Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman over-reacted to the temporary postponement of the National 
Assembly's session and hastily took to the path of rebellion against the 
federal government and usurped the authority of the lawfully-established 
government in East Pakistan. It is a tragedy of the grimmest dimension that 
because of the Awami League's chauvinism and power lust, millions of 
innocent people in East Pakistan suffered the most dreadful trauma in sub- 
continental history. 



India's support to the Awami League encouraged Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman in his bid to wrest the reins of power in East Pakistan from the 
federal government through the majesty of force and terror. India' s rulers 
have not reconciled themselves to the reality of Pakistan as a separate, 
sovereign state. Muslim-majority Pakistan has been a constant eyesore for 

230 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Hindu-majority India. One of the reasons for India's all-out support to 
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his secessionist movement was spelled out in 
mid- 1971 by the Chairman of India's Institute of Public Affairs, Mr. R. R. 
Kapur, a retired senior officer of the Indian Civil Service, in these words: 

"Our support to Mujibur Rahman is based, let us be candid enough, on 
our sub-conscious hate complex of Pakistan. Platonically, we may 
plead all virtue but the harsh reality is that Pakistan was wrested from 
us, and its basis — the two nations' theory — has never been palatable 
to us. If something ever happens which proves the unsoundness of that 
theory, it will be a matter of psychological satisfaction to us. That is, by 
and large, our national psyche and it is in that context that we have 
reacted to a happening which, we think, may well disrupt Pakistan " 

There is ample evidence to prove that India was sending weapons 
and ammunition and armed infiltrators into East Pakistan to help the 
Awami League cadres long before the federal military intervention of 
March 25, 1971. India's rulers had massed more than 100,000 crack troops 
in West Bengal since early March under the pretext of maintaining law and 
order during the elections in that stare. In mid-March, more Indian army 
formations were moved to West Bengal and deployed on the borders of 
East Pakistan to boost the morale of the Awami League insurrectionists. 
Late in March, 1971, at least eight battalions of the Indian Border Security 
Force gave active support to the Awami League rebels in the border belt. It 
was India which organised the burlesque of installing the government of 
Bangladesh in exile in the first week of April in an Indian border village. 
To provide an operational base to its protege Bangladesh Government, the 
Indian authorities manipulated the seizure of Pakistan's diplomatic and 
consular mission in Calcutta by a handful of defectors and handed it over 
to the secessionist fugitives from East Pakistan. 

India would have attacked East Pakistan in April 1971, to establish 
Bangladesh by force but the Indian Army generals counselled their Prime 
Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, against what then was to them a hazardous 
and precipitate action. They preferred the winter for a blitz attack on East 
Pakistan because Pakistan's access routes to China would then be snowed 
up. They also wanted time to mobilise their armed forces for a full-scale 
war with Pakistan and to train the Bengali defectors in guerrilla warfare to 

231 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



soften the Pakistani defences in East Pakistan before the actual Indian 
invasion. The Indian Generals, according to the "Lightning Campaign" by 
Major-General D. K. Palit, also urged the Indian Prime Minister to 
eliminate the possibility of Chinese or American intervention in support of 
Pakistan. In eight months of frenzied preparations, India's rulers succeeded 
in priming their war machine for the blitz attack on East Pakistan. They 
signed the Indo-Soviet alliance in August 1971 to neutralise the danger of 
Chinese intervention in a sub-continental war. They bamboozled American 
public opinion with exaggerated accounts of the refugee influx and turned 
it against Pakistan to ensure that no American weapons would flow into 
Pakistan. 

India trained nearly 100,000 East Pakistan Bengalis in guerrilla 
warfare. Their harassing raids, sabotage and a virtual war of attrition bled 
Pakistan economically and weakened it under the strain of a costly anti- 
insurgency operation. In spire of Pakistan's repeated offers to take back all 
the refugees who had gone to India, India's rulers deliberately did not 
permit them to return to East Pakistan because that would have deprived 
India of a deceptively humanitarian excuse, initially, to milk the world for 
hundreds of millions of dollars in compassionate aid, and subsequently, to 
invade East Pakistan. 

The refugees gave India its most powerful weapon in psychological 
warfare. By inflating their number from a million in May to more then nine 
million in November 1971, India deceived world opinion and gave 
Pakistan a bad name all over the world. India was allergic to Pakistan's 
demand for a count of the refugees in India by an impartial agency, such as 
the United Nations. It did not accept Pakistan's claim that only 2.02 
million people had left East Pakistan due to the civil strife. 



The Indian authorities deliberately encouraged the vast hordes of 
unemployed Bengalis, who swarm Calcutta and its neighbourhood, to 
move into the refugee camps as inmates so that the population of these 
camps could be magnified to impress and mislead foreign visitors and 
United Nations officials. If the Indian Government was so overburdened 
with tile refugees from East Pakistan, it could have promptly negotiated 
with the Pakistan Government their speedy return to their hearths and 
homes in East Pakistan, especially when the Pakistan authorities were 

232 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



anxious to take them back and a general amnesty had been granted to those 
who looted and killed during the Awami League's March 1971 uprising. 
India's rulers uttered haughty words to tell the world that they would allow 
the Bengali refugees to return to East Pakistan only when the province was 
turned over to the Awami League secessionists. A Goebbels-style 
propaganda machinery, which drugged the Indian people for weeks with 
the fiction of Pakistani General Tikka Khan's imaginary death in the last 
days of March 1971, had no qualms of conscience in inflating the number 
of refugees to earn more money and sympathy from gullible nations and 
individuals and to malign its arch enemy, Pakistan. 

Pakistan agreed to the United Nations Secretary-General's proposal 
in the autumn of 1971 for the stationing of monitors on the India-East 
Pakistan border but the Indian Government contemptuously rejected it. The 
UN observers would have bared the fact of India's military patronage, 
sanctuary and logistic support to the Bengali guerrillas and India' s massive 
preparations for the invasion of East Pakistan. 

India's claim that it had maintained a complete record of the 
incoming refugees was a mere fiction. After the federal army went into 
action against the Bengali rebels on March 25, 1971, India opened its 
borders to provide sanctuary to the hordes of fleeing rebels from East 
Pakistan. They were the killers who had enacted one of the bloodiest 
pogroms of modem times. Subsequently India encouraged more Bengalis 
in East Pakistan, especially the Hindus, to cross over to India. In June 
1971, when United Nations officials wanted to check on the veracity of the 
Indian figures on refugees, the Indian authorities hurriedly fabricated some 
records and registers. When these fictitious documents did not fully 
substantiate the Indian claim of the millions of refugees India said had 
come over from East Pakistan, Indian officials blandly said that a few 
million refugees had gone to live with their friends all over India. India's 
rulers found it to their immense advantage to magnify the extent of human 
displacement to attract international sympathy, attention and funds and to 
discredit Pakistan and its army. 



In the months just before and after India and Pakistan attained 
independence in August 1947, some eight million Muslims migrated from 
India to Pakistan and six million Hindus migrated from Pakistan to India 

233 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



owing to Hindu-Muslim religious rioting in the two countries. Involving 
some 14 million people, this was the biggest trans-border migration of 
peoples in human history. India and Pakistan accomplished their 
rehabilitation and resettlement in their respective territories without any 
outside assistance. In 1971, India invented the excuse of its refugee burden 
to invade and grab East Pakistan. It defies human comprehension how all 
the nine million refugees India claimed it was hosting vanished in less than 
a month's time. Indian propagandists claimed that all the Bengali refugees 
lodged in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura had returned and were resettled 
in their hearths and homes in East Pakistan (breakaway Bangladesh) in less 
than a month after India's military seizure of the province on December 17, 
1971. The movement of nine million human beings from the neighbouring 
states of India to Bangladesh, across mine-infested border tracts, shell- 
scarred roads, polluted wells and rotting dead bodies in barely three weeks, 
is beyond the pail of human achievement. But this is precisely what India' s 
propagandists want the world to believe in order to justify their bloated 
figures of the refugee influx. 

Since his advent to power in Dacca, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has 
drummed the phoney charge that the Pakistan Army had killed three 
million of his countrymen in 1971. In civil strife, there is undoubtedly 
some loss of life on both sides. But it is unbelievable that all through the 
nine months of strife in East Pakistan, the Pakistan Army's barely three 
divisions, thinly spread out along more than 1800 miles of explosive, often 
flaming, border with India, did no other work except engage in the gory 
pastime of slaughtering 13,000-plus Bengalis every day. A correspondent 
of the Daily Los Angeles Times, William J. Drummond, who toured 
Bangladesh in the first quarter of 1972, exposed the absurdity of Sheikh 
Mujibur Rahman's charge. Similarly, the falsity of Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman oft-repeated allegation that the Pakistani troops had raped 200,000 
Bengali girls in 1971 was borne out when the abortion team he 
commissioned from Britain early in 1972 found that its workload involved 
the termination of only a hundred or more pregnancies. 

THE END 



234 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



QUTUBUDDIN AZIZ: B A. (Hons.), MA. (Madras). Studied International 
Relations at London School of Economics and trained in Journalism in 
Fleet Street, London. Managing Editor, United Press of Pakistan, a news 
service which he and his father founded in late 1949. Radio Commentator 
on International and National Affairs since 1954. Special Correspondent in 
Pakistan for U.S. International Daily, Christian Science Monitor, since 
1965. 

Member, Standing Committee, Council of Pakistan Newspaper 
Editors, and ex- Vice-President, Karachi Union of Journalists. Co-author, 
"Foreign Policy of Pakistan- An Analysis", published by Karachi 
University. Has authored many pamphlets and articles on foreign policy 
aspects. Authored "Mission to Washington", an expose of India's intrigues 
in the U.S.A. in 1971 to dismember Pakistan. Started writing weekly 
column at the age of 15 in Hyderabad Bulletin, an English Daily of 
Hyderabad State, where his father, Mr. Abdul Hafiz, was Bureau Manager 
of an Indian News Agency, United Press of India, and his mother was a 
member of the State Legislature. Born in Lucknow in 1929, where his 
maternal grandfather, Nawab Abdullah Khan, owned and edited Urdu 
Daily Hamdam, Aziz was educated in New Delhi, Simla and Hyderabad 
Deccan. Was Vice-President, St. George's Grammar School Students 
Society and Nizam College Students' Union, Hyderabad (Dn.). 

Participated in international Youth Conference in London in 1948. 
Covered many international conferences, including U.N. General 
Assembly sessions in Paris and New York, Bandung Conference of 1955, 
Indonesian General Elections, Lebanese Civil War in 1958, Civil War in 
Congo in 1964, Indonesia's 20th Independence Anniversary, Islamic 
Foreign Ministers' and Summit Conferences. Interviewed many world 
famous personalities, including ex-President Truman, Premier Chou en 
Lai, Japan's ex-Premiers Yoshida and Hatoyama, ex-President Garcia of 

235 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Philippines. Had internationally-published cable interview with Soviet 
Premier Bulganin in February 1956. 

Has travelled in 60 countries, including China in 1956 as member 
of an Editors' Delegation, and U.S.A. in 1957 under U.S. Government's 
Leader Exchange Programme. Had lectured in past years to PAF Staff 
College, Army Staff College at Quetta, University of Karachi, U.S. 
Embassy in Karachi and learned bodies and Press Clubs in U.S.A. and 
many ether countries. Was on a Government assignment with Pakistan 
Embassy in U.S., April- November 1971. Was Awarded Tamgha-i-Pakistan 
by Pakistan Government in 1971 for meritorious services to Pakistan. 
Testified before 1971 War Inquiry Commission on February 9, 1972. 
Member, National Council of Social Welfare. Government of Pakistan, 
Sind Social Welfare Council, Sind Government and office bearer in many 
social welfare agencies. Has authored books, pamphlets and articles on 
social welfare. Was an elected member of Karachi Municipal Corporation 
in 1958. 



236 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



This book details or refers to the atrocities committed on West 

Pakistanis, Biharis and other non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis 

by the Awami League militants and their supporters in the following 

110 cities and towns of East Pakistan in 1971: 



1 . Dacca 

2. Narayanganj 

3. Chittagong 

4. Chandraghona 

5. Rangamati 

6. Khulna 

7. Daulatpur 

8. Khalispur 

9. Pholtala 

10. Bagerhat 

11. Satkhira 

12. Dinajpur 

13. Bochaganj 

14. Pirganj 

15. Ranisankhail 

16. Kaharol 

17. Biraganj 

18. Chirirbandar 

19. Parbatipur 

20. Thakurgaon 

21. Hilli 

22. Laksham 

23. Rajbari 

24. Goalundo 

25. Faridpur 

26. Kushtia 

27. Chuadanga 

28. Meherpur 

29. Zafarkandi 

30. Ishurdi 

31. Paksey 

32. Noakhali 



33. Sylhet 

34. Lalabazar 

35. Fenchuganj 

36. Gopalganj 

37. Gobindganj 

38. Balaganj 

39. Jagannathpur 

40. Molvi Bazar 

41. Bheramara 

42. Rargpur 

43. Nilphamari 

44. Saidpur 

45. Lalmonirhat 

46. Jessore 

47. Mobarakganj 

48. Kaliganj 

49. Kotchandpur 

50. Narail 

51. Bejerdanga 

52. Jhenidah 

53. Noapara 

54. Darsana 

55. Barisal 

56. Ferozepur 

57. Jhalakati 

58. Mymensingh 

59. Rajshahi 

60. Natore 

61. Sarda 

62. Nawabganj 

63. Pabna 

64. Serajganj 

237 



65. Dulai 

66. Sujanagar 

67. Santhia 

68. Kismat 

69. Bera 

70. Shahzadpur 

71. Comilla 

72. Feni 

7 3 . Brahmanbaria 

74. Bogra 

75. Naogaon 

76. Santahar 

77. Maijdi 

78. Begumganj 

79. Chaumohani 

80. Hatia 

8 1 . Begunbari 

82. Sandwip 

83. South Hatia 

84. Dakhin 
Shahbazpur 

85. Akhaura 

86. Narsingdi 

87. Bhairab Bazar 

88. Sarasabari 

89. Munshigaij 

90. Chandpur 

91. Hajiganj 

92. Baidya Bazar 

93. Matlab Bazar 

94. Pubail 

95. Keraniganj 



Blood and Tears 

96. Tangibari 

97. Joydebpur 

98. Rupganj 

99. Kishoreganj 

100. Jamalganj 



101. Narkuldanga 

102. Raita 

103. Badarganj 

104. Mahiganj 

105. Pirgacha 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 

106. Kaunia 

107. Kumira 

108. Nazirhat 

109. Dohazari 

110. Anwara 



238 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Specimen of interview sheet for eye-witness account. Most interviews 
were recorded in Urdu and translated into English for this book. 

Sprtcitsa of interview «na«£ far r^csnin^ evi:JBr.5« or fastiasrjr 
or eye-witnesses for "Slood asi T^»rs*,Tnt«rri;wer9 ware Uoin 
royani, : jhahnaa Alia, Safer I^bol an-J Sohail Ah-toil* 

Zntervlov 3hoat lor Eyo-iiltneas iccovct of 

atrocitios eoaaittol tiy Aw".ni I.gVfJ" «i litmta 

in Rut r%Srist»n. 



Sarial ITo. >i 

-r.'.-.'-fiti.'U 

by: M °in P^iMi 



v^i. 









IteltfM tJfe«B of 
FaUstnn (TJ.P.?.) 

1 h Victoria. Chflm'ncri 
Abdullah Kara on Sold, 
foirrtchJ-3 

Fhotrai 512S97 
Date; M _ f ?fr 



M4r«« in Pakistan VWrTr. f-Pt £&&»A , -fi***r . t> ** ** 



yVv/r-^ 



r rof as s lorj B%A«9aMffi 

Bate of ■R4.nl la Woat rnkistnn 

Ro'«a for ceeiap to Vast Paiibrs.in S&il£i^2Jfc£&» 

Address in a-.at Pakistan before — £& 
cosing to Vast Pakistan : 






y\ r**^*\p.M 



-J'/ttA../ 



Pakistan: 

aaae of any eleee ralativos in Itost — • — - — -— — 
Pakistan: 



Appeal isauea by Author in daily r.-xnpapars in Pakistan to 

rejwtriataa froa Boat Pnkiatan for subtaittini; eya-witneooaseouata, 

APPEAL 



id 
REPATsuns mt\ 

CAST PAXKlM 

t an wrii*fl * tv»V *w* 
«■ flrVpltneii L.^rK. r.r 
*JW (Uflcfirta? in'irT^rr '»■ 
mrfKk r-Viim- ,■-...-,, 
BsikUll M WB H Sfcn^Hi 
« fh» hwMf «* J. -, i s. Lm 
rii -a; ■ t*t] i* tut W u- 

(II Ik N7I. I nfafMal t>tt-o 

auKVtirv *v;i*»*rrT .ami 
phniri-prrnpfci 14 tnS|» in «-i-- 

Co IilM rrrhp cl FiUhtM 



Karachi 
Nfe« 14,1574 



's.jw--Jr;w.-(V''k.»jv? jf ■• 



"Daily Jang. 

ICaraohi 
p «b. 15,197i 



239 



Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz 

SCENES OF MUKTI BAHINI'S SLAUGHTER IN DACCA 








On December 18, 1971, 
Indian-trained Mukti 

Bahini killers set up a 
human abattoir in Dacca's 
Race Course. Top picture 
shows a Bihari victim, 
grabbed by Mukti Bahini 
killers, begging for mercy. 

Left picture shows 
uniformed killer puffing 
cigarette to singe the eye 
of the terrified prey. Eye- 
gouging and burning the 
skin of victims was a 
favourite torture method 
of the rebels. 

These photographs were 
taken by a foreign press 
photographer. 



240 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 




Puffing the cigarette to 
rod-hot glow, Mukti 
Bahini killer, donning fur- 
trimmed forage cap, 
kneels and grabs forehead 
of Bihari victim to burn 
his eye. Other rebels, 
toting Indian guns and 
crowd watch macabre 
scene expectantly 



Killer presses victim's 
eye-socket to singe it. 
Another Mukti Bahini 
gunman grabs head of 
another Bihari victim 
for burning his eyes 
before the kill. 




241 



Blood and Tears 



by Qutubuddin Aziz 



Having singed the eyes of 
the Bihari victim, Mukti 
Bahini killers bayonet 
their captives to death. 
The gory drama in the 
human abattoir was 
continued for hours. Dacca 
was under the Indian 
Army's occupation when 
the Mukti Bahini 

slaughtered the innocents. 




As the victim did not die in a single bayonet strike, another Mukti 
Bahini killer plunged his bayonet into the writhing Bihari' s chest. 
Dead bodies of Bihari and Bengali victims lie strewn over the 
execution ground as Mukti Bahini killers and their accompices 
watch the butchery with sadist pleasure. 




242